Professor Publishes New Volume on Medical Humanitarianism

Catherine Panter-Brick
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Catherine Panter-Brick, professor of anthropology, health, and global affairs, and Director of the Program on Conflict, Resilience, and Health at the MacMillan Center is the co-editor of the newly released book, Medical Humanitarianism: Ethnographies of Practice (2015) along with Sharon Abramowitz.

The volume includes 12 essays that fold back the curtains on the individual experiences, institutional practices, and cultural forces that shape humanitarian practice.

“What happens when humanitarian intentions collide with the realities of humanitarian action? The editors present 12 engaging and provocative ethnographies of humanitarian practice, that invite immersion, deep reflection, and call for constructive dialogue between scholarship and humanitarian practice,” writes Unni Karunakara, Jackson Institute Senior Fellow and former international president of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders.  

 Ethnographies of PracticeContributors offer vivid and often dramatic insights into the experiences of local humanitarian workers in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas, national doctors coping with influxes of foreign humanitarian volunteers in Haiti, military doctors working for the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, and human rights-oriented volunteers within the Israeli medical bureaucracy. They analyze our contested understanding of lethal violence in Darfur, food crises responses in Niger, humanitarian knowledge in Ugandan IDP camps, and humanitarian departures in Liberia. They depict the local dynamics of healthcare delivery work to alleviate human suffering in Somali areas of Ethiopia, the emergency metaphors of global health campaigns from Ghana to war-torn Sudan, the fraught negotiations of humanitarians with strong state institutions in Indonesia, and the ambiguous character of research ethics espoused by missions in Sierra Leone.