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Work of Hospitals: Global Medicine in Local Cultures

In the context of neoliberalism and global austerity measures, health care institutions around the world confront numerous challenges in attempting to meet the needs of local populations. Examples from Africa (including, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Congo), Latin America (Peru, Mexico, Guatemala), Western Europe (France, Greece), and the United States illustrate how hospitals play a significant role in the social production of health and disease in the communities where they are. Many low-resource countries have experienced increasing privatization and dysfunction of public sector institutions such as hospitals, and growing withdrawal of funding for non-profit organizations. Underlying the chapters in The Work of Hospitals is a fundamental question: how do hospitals function lacking the medications, equipment and technologies, and personnel normally assumed to be necessary? This collection of ethnographies demonstrates how hospital administrators, clinicians, and other staff in hospitals around the world confront innumerable risks in their commitment to deliver health care, including civil unrest, widespread poverty, endemic and epidemic disease, and supply chain instability. Ultimately, The Work of Hospitals documents a vast gulf between the idealized mission of the hospital and the implementation of this mission in everyday practice. Hospitals thus become “contested space” between policy and practice. 

William C. Olsen is a lecturer in African anthropology in the African studies program at Georgetown University and a research librarian in the Georgetown University Library. He is the co-editor (with Walter van Beek) of Evil in Africa, and the co-editor (with Tom Csordas) for Engaging Evil: A Moral Anthropology.

Carolyn Sargent is professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She is co-editor (with Caroline Brettell) of Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, and co-editor (with Carole Browner) of Reproduction, Globalization, and the State.

ISBN: 9781978823037

ISBN-10: 9781978823037

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

Publication Date: 01/14/2022 - 12:00am

On Sale: 01/14/2022 - 12:00am

Pages: 242

Language: English


Medical / Health Care Delivery

Medical / Health Policy

Social Science / Disease & Health Issues

Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity

Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social