A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S
This book has been in the making for seven years. Its form has both endured
and evolved through the encounters that continue to shape my thinking.
Bringing it to completion has been a paradoxical process, one that—in a
way—stands contra to its central thesis concerning the plasticity of things.
Its present form is enmeshed in a lively web of conversations for which I am
deeply grateful.
In Bahia, I was lucky to benefit from the support of the Gender and
Health program (musa) at the Instituto de Saúde Coletiva (isc) of the Fed-
eral University of Bahia. Thanks in particular to Cecilia McCallum, Estela
Aquino, Greice Menezes, Ana Paula dos Reis, Jorge Iriart, Jenny Araújo, and
Ulla Macêdo. Thanks also to João de Pina Cabral for transmitting his love
of ethnography; to Luisa Elvira Belaunde, Elena Calvo- Gonzalez, Silvia De
Zordo, Luis Nicolau Parés, and Ana Regina Reis for the inspiring conversa-
tions that helped shape this work; as well as to Rosário Gonçalves de Car-
valho, Míriam Rabelo, Cecília Sardenberg, Graciela Natansohn, and Ileana
Hodge. This work would not have been possible without the testimonies
of the women who agreed to share their stories and insights with me, and
I am deeply grateful for their generosity and openness. I am grateful for
the patience and interest shown by the staff in the different medical and
pharmaceutical sectors in which I was able to work, in particular, ceparh
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