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Alum earns Vichrow Award for anthropological research

November 20, 2008

Selena Jorgensen ‘08 has been awarded the Rudolph Virchow Award for best undergraduate paper, given annually by the Society for Medical Anthropology. The award recognizes works that are deemed to reflect, extend or advance critical perspectives in medical anthropology. Jorgensen, a sociology/anthropology major, is now studying at Harvard Medical School.

In her senior thesis,  The Little Clinic that Could: Neoliberalism, Structural Violence, and Community Resistance in Portland, Oregon, Jorgensen details the socio-economic effects of a local health clinic struggling to serve the uninsured. She writes:

“Unable to obtain sustainable funding, the clinic is in danger of being absorbed into the very system its directors had previously resisted. It must adopt bureaucratic policies to qualify for federal funding, which concomitantly entails accepting notions about patient prioritization that prevent the most vulnerable community members from accessing health care. Following the transition of this community clinic into a public entity reveals how the guidelines under which federal clinics function are in opposition to the purpose for which they are created and funded. If these federally funded clinics are unable to provide quality care for the uninsured, then what are they structured to do? How do these federal clinics represent political agendas and long‐standing historical processes which continue to reproduce inequality and enforce normalized standards upon vulnerable patient populations?”