Published: July 6, 2021

Plage, S. (2021). Deploying Normality: Cancer Survivor Identity and Authenticity in Ritual-like Practice. Medical Anthropology40(5), 473–489.


Stefanie Plage


In scholarship on cancer survivorship, “normality” is discussed as a strategy to restore and maintain continuity of identity for the person with cancer. I interrogate the strategic deployment of “normality” in what I define as ritual-like practices by drawing on 20 narrative interviews and 455 photographs produced by study participants. The findings explore normality as outcome (being normal), practice (doing normality), and ethical standard (aspiring to normality). They indicate how sociocultural scripts such as the cancer survivor identity and authentic selfhood inflect what it means to be a “normal” person with cancer with repercussions for recognition in lived experience.