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Volume 23, Issue 2, Fall 2019

Selfhood, Embodiment, Materiality

Ada S. Jaarsma, Suze G. Berkhout
Pages 67-93

Nocebos and the Psychic Life of Biopower

“Nocebo,” a term coined in the mid-twentieth century, refers to the onset of negative side effects in individuals who anticipate harm from biomedical treatment. Sylvia Wynter invokes nocebo effects as racializing phenomena that demonstrate the injurious impact of colonial practices. By soliciting insights from Nocebo Studies, as well as Wynter and Achille Mbembe, this article explores decolonial philosophies of selfhood, especially in terms of the meaning-making expressivity of selves. This conversation between Nocebo Studies and Wynter proffers ways to engage with nocebo effects as mani-festations of the structures of colonial violence, while undercutting biomedical accounts of nocebos that presuppose an overly generic human body.