The Hospital

La Paz - Hospital Infantil - Madrid

In the past 20 years, the hospital has become a privileged field site for medical anthropologists. But what is a hospital? Is it only an architectural formation that allows for the practice of contemporary biomedicine? A space permeable and clearly delimited, structured and open, unpredictable and opaque, medical and non-medical, the modern hospital constantly undergoes rapid technological and economic change. It harbours the traces of past medicines and produces memories and emotions for those who have resided, worked there or supported close ones undergoing treatment and care. This special issue approaches the research object « hospital » by linking specific hospital places to the professional practices exercised in its realms, be they medical, nursing, bureaucratic or managerial. Taken together, the contributions incite to study hospitals not only as ethnographic field sites, but also as singular anthropological locations, in order to understand how each hospital exists in its particularity – for patients, professionals and families – and how it arranges medicine and care. In the degree that we detach our ethnographic view from the problems specific to hospital medicine, it becomes possible to apprehend the productions and proprieties of hospitals as such.



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