"Milk makes me sick but my body needs it": conflict and contradiction in the establishment of authoritative knowledge. Academic Article uri icon


  • This article takes lactose intolerance as a topic for exploring clashes of power, authority, and knowledge in clinical interactions and interpretations of laywomen. In clinics providing maternal and child care, staff and clients jointly produced authoritative knowledge, most often a version of biomedicine. The Euroamerican staff tended to give advice that was biologically appropriate for them but not for many of their patients, a process reflecting what we refer to as biocentrism. Resulting information given to pregnant and lactating women and diagnoses of children's growth patterns were inappropriate in some cases, with potentially serious legal and health implications. Clinic staff often unwittingly ignored the efforts of their clients to begin a discussion of discrepancies between their bodily knowledge and clinic advice. Some women created their own syntheses, which supported the ascendancy of biomedical knowledge but were not in the interests of their own health.

published proceedings

  • Med Anthropol Q

author list (cited authors)

  • Kingfisher, C. P., & Millard, A. V.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Kingfisher, CP||Millard, AV

publication date

  • December 1998