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Möt vår nydisputerade doktorand Jamie Woodworth!

Jamie Woodworth
Foto: Sarah Hirani

Onsdagen den 5/6-2024 disputerade vår doktorand Jamie Woodworth med avhandlingen Our Deaths, Ourselves - An exploaration of care, community, and dying in the Swedish welfare state. Här berättar Jamie mer sitt forskningsprojekt.

Can you shortly describe what your research is about?

My research is about how we relate to one another and ourselves in the end-of-life, in the Swedish welfare state context. In particular, I look at a model called public health palliative care (PHPC), which promotes different forms of community care in the  end-of-life. I discuss some critical gaps in this model, specifically, how gender, age, and welfare shape our possibilities for dying and caring well. Volunteerism and informal care, for example, are characterized by a gendered division of labor. These two forms of care-work have also become incentivized and promoted as formal welfare services are retrenched. Our possibilities for giving care are, in other words, textured by inequality as much as neoliberal transformation in the care sector. Our possibilities for receiving care are also influenced by age. Most people who die in Sweden are older adults, who, in the last stages of life, often live in nursing homes. Care in this phase of life, and in these settings, is specific, often with constrained possibilities for meaning-making related to delimited time for connection and support. Throughout, my research points out how PHPC models should account for these factors in order to imagine more equitable and socially sustainable future for care across and between the public/private divide.

Your research covers several fields and is interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary. Which research fields does your research cover? What have it been like to write cross these different fields?

My research has attempted to bring the field of public health palliative care in conversation with feminist scholarship on care. Both of these fields in themselves are inter- and transdisciplinary, criss crossing between medical and nursing sciences, public health, social work, sociology and feminist philosophy. It has been very confusing to write these studies, in other words! I have had to read empirical as well as theoretical texts from two different scientific communities and also learn how to unite these perspectives methodologically. After making a lot of mistakes, and many hours discussing with nurses and sociologists, separately and together, I think I’ve managed to reach a consensus in how to approach this topic.

What have been most exciting about your research?

I think what has been most exciting is the transdisciplinary aspect. I have had the latitude in my research to navigate between two different worlds. One day, I am in the palliative care unit talking with physicians about “total pain” and the next I am in a seminar in gender studies talking about forms of resistance and transversal bonds. I have felt like a traveller who has had the privilege to gain insight from many different people. While at times it was also very confusing and internally frustrating, not knowing how to go forward in a productive way, I think at the end of the journey it is also clear to me that I was able to do something totally unique. In the end, I think that this really different perspective that I bring to clinical settings can be of benefit to patients, significant others, and policy makers.

How does your research contribute to the field?

Care is and has been an central area of research within gender studies. Feminist research on care, like my own, has explored how care is a relational practice, textured by power, and imbricated in our own subjectivity as much as political processes. My research contributes to gender studies by extending this conversation about care into a an under-explored period of life: dying. Most research in gender studies has focused on other points in the life course- for example gestation, child-rearing, and work-life. My work develops, both empirically and theoretically, the unique dimensions of care in the end-of-life context, extending the scope of feminist research on care.