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Ethnography of texts: a literature review of health and female homosexuality in Brazil
  1. Carolina Rau Steuernagel1,
  2. Eivind Engebretsen2,
  3. Hans Wiggo Kristiansen3,
  4. Kåre Moen4
  1. 1Department of Community Medicine and Global Health, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Head Office, Church City Mission, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Department of Community Medicine and Global Health, Universtiy of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Carolina Rau Steuernagel, Department of Community Medicine and Global Health, University of Oslo, Oslo 0315, Norway; c.b.r.steuernagel{at}


This paper reviews the literature on health and female homosexuality in Brazil and, along the way, outlines an alternative approach to reviewing academic literature. Rather than summarising the contents of previously published papers, we relate to these publications primarily as partakers in the creation of knowledge. Inspired by Actor-Network Theory (ANT), we apply ethnographic methods to understand the papers as study participants endowed with action. We also draw on the notions of inscription and intertextuality to trace the complex relationship between the findings in the articles and the realities outside of them. We claim that ‘evidence’ is the product of translational processes in which original events, such as experiments, blood tests and interviews, are changed into textual entities. In addition, text production is seen as an absorption of everything else surrounding its creation. When events are turned into articles, the text incorporates the political environment to which original events once belonged. We thus observe a political text inscribed into the written evidence of sexually transmitted infections, and the practice of publishing about scientific vulnerabilities emerges as political action. In contrast with traditional ways of reviewing literature in medical scholarship, this article offers a reminder that although there is a connection between textual evidence and the reality outside publications, these dimensions are not neutrally interchangeable.

  • anthropology
  • medical humanities
  • philosophy
  • social science

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  • Contributors KM suggested the design. CBRS selected the articles and wrote the various versions of the drafts. CBRS translated quotations. KM and HWK provided anthropological foundation. EE provided philosophical background. The four authors discussed all versions of the paper. KM, HWK and EE made critical and detailed comments. All authors have approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by Universitetet i Oslo.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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