Bodies Multiple in Communities of Aid
This chapter examines the “biospiritual imaginaries” that underpin Lutherans’ increasing attention to healing and medicine as globally connecting religious activities. Bringing together research in Malagasy Lutheran-led healing services and medical aid organizations in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the chapter analyzes the “bodies multiple” (Mol 2002) of Lutheran medical work and explores the global imaginaries and forms of community they foster, as well as their perhaps unexpected ideological fissures and contradictions for Minnesotan Lutheran aid workers. Taking the reader inside the Minneapolis NGOs, the chapter shows how middle-class American aid workers make the organizations into therapeutic spaces for addressing insecurities caused by job losses, financial problems, and health crises, grounding a humanitarian ethic of care in these lived realities. In strikingly different ways, therapeutic practices, as faith-based activities of social welfare, health and well-being, work to overcome insecurities spurred by neoliberal policies in both the Midwest U.S. and in Madagascar. Medical relief work thus attains significance as a multi-faceted healing activity with cultural and historical dimensions, emerging through a transnational field of faith-based medical activities.
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