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Volume 1, Issue 2
Summer 2005:

Blood Diamonds

John Sullivan

Cell 2 Soul. 2005 Summer; 1(2):a5

Blood Diamonds focuses on many issues associated with the practice of community health research. The play's action and character relationships explore the power dynamic that exists between vulnerable community members immersed in what they believe to be life-threatening disease outcomes of toxic exposures, and scientists from some safer elsewhere who must remain objective in their attempts to demonstrate definitive cause and effect. The conflicts among an epidemiological researcher, and the mother and father of a child with Acute Lymphocytic (Lymphoblastic) Leukemia show how the varying agendas and urgencies of different stakeholders in such a situation are difficult to reconcile, and may also breed distrust. As family members struggle to maintain a sane existence under the regimen of hospital stays, doctor visits, chemotherapy, and the push and pull of political crosscurrents, they reveal the extent to which disease and uncertainty have tested their values and threatened to undermine the core of their cohesion as a family. Ultimately, the epidemiologist must question her own values: her unassailable scientific role as objective observer / recorder, the primacy of expert vs. local or intuitive knowledge in demonstrating the truth, even her very conception of "what we talk about when we talk about" reality, and the truth. The setting and events of this play are based on a real world epidemiological puzzler. The characters and their relationships derive from past experience in working with a wide array of communities on environmental justice issues.

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