Otherness in the Clinical Borderlands
Keywords:language, culture & disability, clinical discourse and cultural borderlands, otherness and clinical interaction
Clinical practice represents a kind of cultural borderland territory bringing together people from different walks of life with distinctive social experiences and expectations related to gender, age, status, and health, to name a few, who otherwise might not encounter one another (Mattingly, 2010). In these borderland encounters, culture is realized and made relevant during moments of social differentiation. This paper focuses on how such social differences manifest themselves in clinical discourse through encounters with otherness—otherness referring to a negative cultural capacity to transform those who are different into devalued Others. Interrelated themes of space, change and transformation, group membership categorization, and the structuring of participation in clinical interaction are used as an exploratory framework to illuminate the construction of otherness. By conceiving of the clinical world as a territory where otherness is woven into the experiences of those we are seeking to help, it is hoped that practitioners will be encouraged to develop a more nuanced understanding of clinical practice as cultural borderlands.
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