FRANCES NORWOOD
2011 MARGARET MEAD 
AWARD RECIPIENT

mead_norwood.jpgDr. Frances Norwood is Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at George Washington University and Director of Research with Inclusion Research Institute in Washington, DC. She earned her PhD in medical anthropology from the University of California-San Francisco and Berkeley. She is currently interested in exploring innovative solutions for long term and end-of-life care through the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Dr. Norwood received a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology in 2005 from the University of California-San Francisco and Berkeley.  Her research interest include long term care health policy, disability, innovative health care solutions, quality improvement, spirituality and health, vulnerable populations, health care reform and heath policy, critical medical anthropology, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, United States and the Netherlands.

The Maintenance of Life is about what has developed in one present-day society to address social death and modern dying.  It is based on a 15-month qualitative study of home death in the Netherlands with general practitioners, end-of-life patients, and their family members.  The book develops from two study findings: (1) that euthanasia in practice is predominantly a discussion, which only rarely culminates in a euthanasia death; and (2) that euthanasia talk in many ways serves a palliative function, staving off social death by providing participants with a venue for processing meaning, giving voice to suffering, and reaffirming social bonds and self-identity at the end of Dutch life.  Through the mainstream practice of euthanasia talk, space has been created within healthcare which helps people live longer as active participants engaged in Dutch social networks at the end of life.  Using direct observation and in-depth interviews with patients, families, and physicians, this book looks critically at Dutch euthanasia policy and broader end-of-life practices from a cultural perspective and in comparison with US end-of-life practices and policies.  It concludes with a discussion of what lessons the US may take from the Dutch experience maintaining life at the end of life.