a c k n o w l e d g m e n t s
Writing an acknowl edgments section is generally something of an afterthought,
a last bit of text inscribed as the manuscript is about to be sent to the publisher.
For us, this section has been one of the most difficult to write. Ac knowledg-
ments generally look back from the bounded and secure position of “the au-
thor.” But what do you say when the book was occasioned by unconscionable
and undiagnosed deaths? How do you thank the people whose reactions to
the loss of their children gave rise to the demand, “Tell me why my children
died,” thrusting you into a proj ect that you had never anticipated or desired,
whose par ameters were so innovative and complex that you can only hope
that your response is adequate? It is in this spirit that we offer the following
acknowl edgments.
To the families in Barranquita, El Cocal, Hanahoana, Hokorinoko, Hom-
inisebe, Horobuhu, Mukoboina, Muaina, Sakoinoko, Santa Rosa de Guayo,
Siawani, and the others where children died in the epidemic: We thank you for
asking the six of us to collaborate with you in finding out what was killing your
children, for your efforts to articulate the value of their lives and the grievability
of their deaths, as well as for the charge to “take our words to Chávez”—in short,
for making us part of your work of mourning. We also salute the local represen-
tatives who helped their settlements face death and fear and who worked with
the team in organ izing the meetings that enabled parents to tell their stories and
make our work of epidemiology and documentation pos si ble.
To Conrado, Enrique, Norbelys, and Tirso: We have never faced a more dif-
ficult challenge, nor received a greater honor than your call to join the efforts
you or ganized to stop the epidemic and to transform health in the delta. We
thank you for your friendship and trust, and also for the many ways your in-
sights have enabled us to grow as persons, scholars, and prac titioners. We hope
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