The introduction begins by detailing the general contours of the loss-and-salvation narrative that has been built up around obstetric fistula. Although the narrative’s core assumptions do not hold up easily to scrutiny, they open up a critical space for scholarly inquiry: How do experiences of injury and treatment for fistula play out in a specific ethnographic site, both in connection to this narrative and independently of it? Using the narrative as a springboard to a more expansive set of concerns about bodily injury, the function of hospitals, and the role of surgery as a technological imaginary, the introduction lays out the book’s primary contention: that both processes of injury and projects of healing are entangled in a range of agendas that exceed a focus on the biophysical body. Just as women’s birthing injuries pulled in a host of concerns, practices, and actors, so did the project of healing. Having spelled out the book’s principal contributions to scholarship in and beyond medical anthropology, the introduction acquaints the reader with Hamlin fistula hospitals, obstetric fistula as a medical condition, Ethiopia’s existing health infrastructure, the author’s main site of research, as well as her research methods.
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