End-of-life issues are increasingly central to discussions within medical anthropology, the anthropology of political action, and the study of Buddhist philosophy and practice. Felicity Aulino's Rituals of Care speaks directly to these important anthropological and existential conversations. Against the backdrop of global population aging and increased attention to care for the elderly, both personal and professional, Aulino challenges common presumptions about the universal nature of "caring." The way she examines particular sets of emotional and practical ways of being with people, and their specific historical lineages, allows Aulino to show an inseparable link between forms of social organization and forms of care.
Unlike most accounts of the quotidian concerns of providing care in a rapidly aging society, Rituals of Care brings attention to corporeal processes. Moving from vivid descriptions of the embodied routines at the heart of home caregiving to depictions of care practices in more general ways-care for one's group, care of the polity-it develops the argument that religious, social, and political structures are embodied, through habituated action, in practices of providing for others. Under the watchful treatment of Aulino, care becomes a powerful foil for understanding recent political turmoil and structural change in Thailand, proving embodied practice to be a vital vantage point for phenomenological and political analyses alike.
"Felicity Aulino's Rituals of Care is evocative and engaging. It provides in-depth ethnographic descriptions and develops a theory of care, morality, and subjectivity that is clear and excellently discussed."
-- Joanna Cook, University College London, author of Meditation in Modern Buddhism
"Rituals of Care disturbs in all the right ways. It disturbs our sense of what a self is and what it means to care for someone in the last stretches of life. It disturbs us sensorially by placing bodily caring practices front and center, so we can no longer pretend such practices have no relevance for cultural history or theory."
-- Lisa Stevenson, McGill University, author of Life Beside Itself
"This is a beautifully written and carefully argued account of care in the context of karma. It shows us that the western understanding of what it means to care is not universal. It also show us that the way humans care become the underpinnings of the way they harm. Because of this, the book is a powerful and provocative text."
-- Tanya Marie Luhrmann, Howard H. and Jessie T. Watkins University Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Psychology, Stanford University