Research Expertise and Interest

sacrifice, economy of excess, negativity, scientific authority, political theory, psychological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology

Research Description

Daena Funahashi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropolgy.  Her work focuses on illness alongside anthropological and philosophical concerns about death, pain, and existence. In her publications and teaching, she explores how techniques and institutional apparatuses emerge, and promise a certain hold over life. It is a promise vital in keeping capital and its system, one that demands an individual capacity to be in self-control, alive. In Untimely Sacrifices: Work and Death in Finland (Cornell University Press 2023), she draws upon her ethnographic work in Finland, where rising concern over burnout raised a need for state-led techniques for self-management. Rather than focus on how society molds its members, she asks instead what is left out of the techno-medical promise for self-management, and what classic anthropological texts on exchange can add to our current concerns about stress disorders such as burnout. This book, moreover questions the emphasis placed upon the mental states of those who suffer burnout to instead inquire after the illness inherent within the welfare state. In her more recent work in Thailand, she has examined the role that global health movements play in local politics of mental health. In an extended project on Thai politics, she examines the multiple writings of the Thai constitution to ask what is constituted by the writing of the constitution. What does the act of writing accomplish in the lack of established political legitimacy? Tying these divergent field sites and projects together is an attention to what lies beyond what could be articulated as law, as disease, and as projects of self-management. Her most current project focuses upon this very excess. 

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