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Biomedicalization and the Practice of CultureGlobalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan$
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Mari Armstrong-Hough

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469646688

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469646688.001.0001

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Cavemen Didn’t Get Diabetes

Cavemen Didn’t Get Diabetes

American Narratives about the Origins of Type 2 Diabetes

(p.36) Chapter Two Cavemen Didn’t Get Diabetes
Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture

Mari Armstrong-Hough

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 2 synthesizes scholarly work on diabetes narratives, a discussion of popular literature on diabetes, and interview data. It argues that the dominant American narratives on the origins of the diabetes epidemic emphasize the universality of risk and rely on the perception that illness arises when one treats the body in ways that are unnatural. The price of modernity, according to this origin story, is stress and the constant temptations of a sedentary lifestyle and unwholesome foods—indulgences that, because they are unnatural, cause harm to the body. Because everyone is imagined to be exposed to risks of modernity, mitigating risk is a matter of personal discipline; those that fall victim to so-called lifestyle diseases are implicitly or explicitly cast as morally culpable for their disease.

Keywords:   Narratives, Popular health literature, Modernity, Risk, Paleofantasy

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