Biehl book garners awards

João Biehl, assistant professor of anthropology, has won two awards for his new book, "Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment."

He received the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology and an honorable mention for the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology.

The Basker prize is given annually for a large-scale work representing superior research in the area of gender and health. The Turner prize is given for an innovative book that helps to re-open anthropology to the human subject.

The book, published in June by the University of California Press, centers on a young woman named Catarina, who is increasingly paralyzed and said to be mad. She is living out her time in Vita, an asylum in southern Brazil. Biehl traces the complex network of family, medicine, state and economy that led to her abandonment.

The awards were announced at a recent gathering of the American Anthropological Association, where Biehl also won the Rudolph Virchow Award from the Society for Medical Anthropology for his article, "The Activist State: Global Pharmaceuticals, AIDS and Citizenship in Brazil," which was published in Social Text in 2004.

Also at the meeting, two Princeton students, Amy Saltzman, a 2005 graduate, and Michael Oldani, a graduate student, won awards from the Society for Medical Anthropology for their papers. Michele Rivkin-Fish, a 1997 Princeton graduate alumna, won the society's Polgar Prize for the best article appearing in Medical Anthropology Quarterly.