Ultrasound Travels; the politics of a medical technology in Ghana and Tanzania
10 / 2001 - 06 / 2007
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
The study sets out to describe and analyze the uses of diagnostic ultrasound in a cultural context that differs profoundly from the context in which it was first developed and put to use: we set out to study ultrasound as it is used in Ghana. The study will produce in depth knowledge on Ghanaian uses of medical diagnostic ultrasound, and it will produce a framework for analysis and evaluation of technology transfer in a more general sense. Increasingly, high-tech medical equipment is being transferred from the 'West' to developing countries. So far, anthropologists have hardly paid attention to the phenomenon of the displacement of this kind of technologies, whereas sociologists of technology have mainly focussed on western societies .The present study departs from two propositions. The first is that technology transfer is a process of mutual shaping of technology and its new environment. The second is that in the process, technologies become loaded with both factual and normative notions in culturally specific ways. Four research questions follow suit: 1) How do ultrasound images come to depict specific obstetrical facts and what normative values do these facts carry? 2) Why do pregnant women 'want' an ultrasound, and how does this change their experience of pregnancy? 3) How does ultrasound as a medical technology affect existing health care arrangements?4) How may a technology's factual and normative agendas - on the level of the images and on the level of its institutional space/place - be deliberately designed rather than developed accidentally? The study aims at being relevant for technology policy in the developing world, anthropologists of medical technology, and sociologists of technology.