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COPD, culture, climate and the sensation of breathlessness in Uruguay

Dr Megan Wainwright is an international collaborator on the Life of Breath project. She is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town (Division of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health and Family Medicine), and an Honorary Fellow at Durham University (Anthropology). She writes:

For all who are interested in how breath can be understood as a culturally-mediated sensation, Sensing the Airs: The Cultural Context for Breathing and Breathlessness in Uruguay is for you! Recently published in the journal Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, this article carves new ground in intersecting the anthropologies of wind and climate and the anthropology of the body.

With an extensive bibliography and rich with ethnographic examples, the article contributes to our understanding of the sensation of breathlessness in the context of living with COPD in Uruguay. It offers a conceptualization of breathing as the mechanism by which the medium of air delivers information from the environment to our bodies – and is thus embodied. How and what we pay attention to in our bodies, our breath and our environment is more widely shared than we may think.

Thanks to the Wellcome Trust-funded Life of Breath project, everyone can freely access the full text of this publication. In addition, for a quick overview and additional images of Uruguay, have a look at the short video abstracts available in three languages: English, French and Spanish.

A view of Montevideo from Cerro
                                                A view of el Barrio Sud, Montevideo

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