“I can't tell you all my troubles”: conflict, resistance, and metacommunication in Bangladeshi illness interactions



Transcripts of interactions between patients, kin, and healers open up the lives of fourrogi (“sick ones” or “patients”) in Matlab, Bangladesh. I compare the pattern of domination and resistance in those interactions with Western biomedical encounters. Patients in Matlab express dissatisfaction with the power relations of family or medicine through low-level means that do not enter discursive consciousness. By indirectly calling attention to the suppression of their voices, patients' metacomplaints—a species of metacommunication evident in two of the interactions—entail an incipient cultural criticism.