Through rich ethnographic narrative, Becoming Gods examines how a cohort of doctors-in-training in the Mexican city of Puebla learn to become doctors. Smith-Oka draws from compelling fieldwork, ethnography, and interviews with interns, residents, and doctors that tell the story of how medical trainees learn to wield new tools, language, and technology and how their white coat, stethoscope, and newfound technical, linguistic, and sensory skills lend them an authority that they cultivate with each practice, transforming their sense of self. Becoming Gods illustrates the messy, complex, and nuanced nature of medical training, where trainees not only have to acquire a monumental number of skills but do so against a backdrop of strict hospital hierarchy and a crumbling national medical system that deeply shape who they are.
About the Author
VANIA SMITH-OKA is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
"Seeking to learn how obstetric violence is routinized in Mexico, Smith-Oka reveals how societal inequalities shape trainee physicians’ education, embodiment, and even souls. Taking readers backstage in medical interns’ hospital work through rich and readable ethnography, she shows students’ ideals meeting realities of toxic hierarchy, discrimination and precarity as they become doctors. Essential reading for understanding how professionalization reproduces inequality!" — Emily Wentzell
"Vania Smith-Oka is a gifted ethnographer of the anthropology of reproduction. In Becoming Gods she reveals the embodied transformational processes through which Mexican medical trainees become good doctors, vividly depicting how doing so is hindered by the country’s profoundly resource-poor medical system and the persistence of racial, social, class, and gendered hierarchies." — Carole Browner