A talk of interest to COR community…
“Bandage, Sort, and Hustle: Ambulance Crews on the Front Lines of Urban Suffering”
Josh Seim, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California
Date: Friday, January 17th
Location: The Jennifer Buher-Kane Conference Room (SSPB 4250)
ABSTRACT: What is the role of the 911 ambulance in the American city? The prevailing narrative provides a rather simple answer: saving and transporting the critically ill and injured. This is not an incorrect description, but it is incomplete. Drawing on field observations, medical records, and his own experience as a novice emergency medical technician, Josh Seim reimagines paramedicine as a frontline institution for governing urban suffering. Bandage, Sort, and Hustle (2020, University of California Press) argues the ambulance is part of a fragmented regime that is focused more on neutralizing hardships disproportionately carried by poor people and people of color than on eradicating the root causes of agony. Whether by compressing lifeless chests on the streets or by transporting the publicly intoxicated into the hospital, ambulance crews tend to handle suffering bodies near bottom of the polarized metropolis. Seim illustrates how this work puts crews in recurrent, and sometimes tense, contact with the emergency department nurses and police officers who share their subjects. These street-level relations, however, cannot be understood without considering the bureaucratic and capitalistic forces that control and coordinate ambulance labor from above. Beyond the ambulance, this book motivates a labor-centric model for understanding the frontline governance of down-and-out populations.
BIO: Josh Seim is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. He is broadly interested in the governance of poverty and suffering, and this has led him into the sociologies of medicine, punishment, and more. Professor Seim’s research has appeared in American Sociological Review, Punishment and Society, and other journals. His book, Bandage, Sort, and Hustle: Ambulance Crews on the Front Lines of Urban Suffering, was recently published by the University of California Press. Research for this book was recognized by the American Sociological Association this past August. Dr. Seim received honorable mention for both the 2019 ASA Dissertation Award and the 2019 Roberta G. Simmons Outstanding Dissertation in Medical Sociology Award.