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By Sydney Buck, Amienata Fatajo, Rose Anim, and Rachel Hodakowski


This collection of essays explores the manifestations of structural violence experienced and observed by North Carolina Residents. According to medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer, “structural violence is defined as being the mechanisms through which large-scale forces crystallize into the hard, sharp surfaces of individual suffering. Such suffering is structured by historically given and economically given processes that conspired energy” (Farmer 11-18). In other words, structural violence is found in the social and economic inequalities built into the very social and political systems in our lives. In North Carolina, structural violence in medicine has taken many forms, including: inadequate healthcare access due to HIV/AIDS status, language barriers, miscommunication, and forced sterilization.

In this playlist, each narrator describes the various ways in which medicine has failed patients due to systemic practices or stigma. Chasity Hargrove is a pharmacy director at CommWell Health Clinic in Dunn, NC, who reflects on the refusal of care due to a lack of interpreters, and on her choice to learn Spanish for the benefit of her patients. Sabra Jane Hammond, a physician at CommWell Health in rural Asheville, NC, discusses the difficulties of communicating with patients when there is an interpreter as a mediator and how this negatively affects patient care. Jacqui Laukaitis, a Chilean native and medical interpreter, reflects on a lack of communication in the medical field, particularly with Spanish-speaking patients being inadequately served because of language barriers, as well as interactions with doctors who wish sterilization upon their patients. Jim Kellenburger, an engineer, reflects on the legacy of sterilization at Dorethea Dix as well as how they were performed without consent. George Cosmos, a retired OB GYN, reflects on examining women who unknowingly had their uterus removed as part of the larger North Carolina eugenics movement. Jacqui Laukaitis appears again in the playlist to discuss miscommunication and how it makes the patient alienated. Marie-Flynn Vargo is a nurse, and she talks about her childhood and how learning about reproductive health was a taboo subject. She later contrasts this with the experiences she has as a nurse. Andy Hunt, married to Don Chaplin, discusses his personal experience about the initial findings of HIV-AIDS disease and the rippling effects it had in the LGBTQ+ community. Thomas McLaughlin, a service-coordinator for HIV-positive patients in Dunn, North Carolina, describes how he views his body and health after testing positive for HIV and how it made him a better advocate for his community. Don Chaplin, a retired doctor, became a HIV-AIDS advocate after dealing with the struggles of coming out as a gay man and calls for protection for the LGBTQ+ community.

Student Essays