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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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The Productivity of Crisis: Aid, Time, and Medicine in Mozambique

The Productivity of Crisis: Aid, Time, and Medicine in Mozambique

(p.51) Four The Productivity of Crisis: Aid, Time, and Medicine in Mozambique
African Futures

Ramah Mckay

University of Chicago Press

Anthropological accounts have explored how humanitarian and medical interventions produce “mobile,” “partial” forms of sovereignty across Africa. Scholars have demonstrated how a “humanitarian imaginary” rooted in images of crisis and rupture has generated new forms of knowledge and care as non-governmental and humanitarian institutions take increasing roles in the provision of medical-public services. Yet in many places, such interventions achieve surprising durability, disrupting the acute temporality of crisis. Drawing on ethnographic vignettes from humanitarian projects in Mozambique, one of the world’s largest recipients of donor funding, this chapter explores the productivity of “crisis” as interventions give rise to new sets of relations, bodies of expertise, forms of livelihood, and life chances. Beyond the emergence of new sovereign forms, it asks how aid projects inform relations, as families, friends, and community are inscribed into political and medical practice; how livelihoods, and new forms of knowledge and value, intersect with practices of care; and how medical aid workers and project recipients fashion lives and imagine futures in the institutions of medical aid. Attending to forms of life and futures that such interventions produce allows for attention to the productivity of crisis and expands the temporal frame of interventions beyond rupture and chronicity.

Keywords:   humanitarianism, aid, political economy, livelihood, chronicity

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