1Departments of Anthropology and Occupational Science and Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0032.
hospitals constitute an example of what is arguably the most visible
site in anthropology these days-the border zone. Negotiating health care
requires trafficking in tricky spaces where patients and their families
must pay vigilant attention about when to submit, when to resist, and
how to collaborate. Drawing from ethnographic research carried out over
the past nine years among African American families who have children
with severe illnesses and disabilities, I examine how children's popular
culture operates in the fraught borderland that constitutes the urban
clinic. Global icons like a Disneyfied Pocahantas can function as a
lingua franca, offering a language of publicly available symbols on
which families, health professionals, and children can draw to create a
shared imaginative space across race and class divides and across the
sometimes even more radical divide between sufferer and healer.