Beyond suspicion: Evidence, (un)certainty, and tuberculosis in Georgian prisons

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26 Scopus citations


In this article, I address relations between tuberculosis and incarceration in postsocialist Georgia. I focus on the traffic in sputum samples among prisoners for whom a positive diagnosis promises a transfer to the TB prison colony, where living conditions are better. I argue that the practices associated with this exchange, called "cheating" by medical program administrators, and responses to them shed light on the unintended consequences of biomedical standardization and the ambivalences and ambiguities of disease governance in contemporary Georgia and the post-Soviet context, more generally. Cheating is a moral-diagnostic category: Trafficking in sputum is a form of constrained agency in which disease becomes a survival strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-62
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Anthropology of medicine and science
  • Biomedical standardization
  • Georgia
  • Incarceration
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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