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Reducing Hypertension in Trinidad and Tobago

alex.clegg4 August 2022

Author: Daniel Miller

The research project Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing which is now close to completion was always intended to also develop some practical projects to improve the welfare of the populations where we carried out our research. Many of the deaths that resulted from Covid in Trinidad and Tobago came through co-morbidities with diabetes and hypertension. Anthropological research by Trinidadian anthropologist Sheba Mohammid along with Daniel Miller suggested that while people were knowledgeable about diabetes, the contribution of salt to hypertension was largely unknown. We also found that most health campaigns in the area had received very few responses even when backed up by companies and government and that over the half the population were anti Covid vaccinations. We therefore tried to create our own independent campaign based on what we had learnt from our anthropological research including understanding the reasons behind anti-vaccination. For example, trying to focus on positive and creative possibilities rather than negative messages. We called the result our Chef It Up TT campaign.

The first phase of this campaign which ended on July 31st was a competition around healthy eating. Thanks to the indefatigable Sheba Mohammid and her team this produced exactly what we were hoping for. Within two months we could see a very active Facebook site with over 800 followers who had posted over 200 healthy recipes and effectively created a community of people discussing topics such alternatives to salt.

An entry for the Chef It Up TT competition

Please do have a look at our site at https://www.facebook.com/groups/chefituptt and then by all means try out some of these recipes !

In the next phase we will follow this up with a quiz on healthy eating to reduce hypertension which we are developing as a smartphone app.

Individuals and inequality

Daniel Miller14 June 2021

I am currently writing a second book about Cuan, my fieldsite in Ireland. This will allow me to spend much more time presenting evidence for inequality, focusing on an area of social housing located in the middle of Cuan, that remains quite apart from most of this quite affluent middle-class town. Detailed study, however, reveals many nuances to any simple or dualistic presentation that just opposes these different segments of the same town. The overall rise in income and possibilities in Irish society over the last 50 years have impacted upon most of the population, though not all. Bob would never have expected to be able to live outside of social housing, having worked first as a butcher’s assistant and retired finally as a school caretaker, low paid work that precludes the ability to purchase a property. Yet in retirement, he found his true vocation as a poet and today is as comfortable at the opera as he in the betting shop.

The term class is quite a crude categorisation. I would argue that Ireland has a much stronger egalitarian ideology than here in England, laid across still evident inequalities. Many of the oral histories of individuals I recorded talk of the extreme poverty of their origins but alongside the love of literature and the arts. I didn’t feel that this film represented class mobility or a change in class identity, or even that actually Bob sees things in such terms. It seemed there was both something Irish about Bob and also much that was simply individual. This is an additional point. Bob doesn’t have to be typical of anything or anyone, but for the anthropologist, it is hugely important to acknowledge that he exists and that abstract discussions of class and inequality need to balanced by meeting people as individuals, in this case as Bob.

The film is included in the recent book I wrote with Pauline Garvey, Ageing with Smartphones in Ireland.