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Beyond SurgeryInjury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital$
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Anita Hannig

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226457154

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226457321.001.0001

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Mending the Mothers of Ethiopia: Institutional Roots, Logic, and Mission

Mending the Mothers of Ethiopia: Institutional Roots, Logic, and Mission

(p.93) Three Mending the Mothers of Ethiopia: Institutional Roots, Logic, and Mission
Beyond Surgery

Anita Hannig

University of Chicago Press

Introducing the institutional dimensions of fistula treatment in Ethiopia, this chapter provides historical background to the mission of Hamlin fistula hospitals and analyzes core facets of their institutional logic. The chapter offers an account of the history of fistula surgery in Ethiopia and its relationship to missionary medicine, connecting the creed of the hospital’s founders to the turbulent history of Protestant Christianity in the country. Based on archival materials of funding pleas sent to prospective donors by the Hamlins between the 1960s and 70s, the chapter also looks at the contradictory work that narratives about fistula perform and how these narratives have inflected treatment and guided assumptions about what it is these patients need. Of particular interest here are the Protestant undertones of rescue and salvation long embedded in fistula treatment—the desire to “save” patients and give them a new life. By examining the religious and ideological underpinnings of the Hamlins’ mission to heal, the chapter shows that the project of surgery has never just been seen as a technological solution. In Hamlin fistula hospitals, surgery took on a distinctly religious flavor and became infused with a set of ideas that centered on its redemptive potential.

Keywords:   Protestant Christianity, history, surgery, hospital, mission, healing, salvation, mothers, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, medicine

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