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Conversionary SitesTransforming Medical Aid and Global Christianity from Madagascar to Minnesota$
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Britt Halvorson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226557120

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226557434.001.0001

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Redeeming Medical Waste, Making Medical Relief

Redeeming Medical Waste, Making Medical Relief

Chapter:
(p.100) Chapter Three Redeeming Medical Waste, Making Medical Relief
Source:
Conversionary Sites
Author(s):

Britt Halvorson

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226557434.003.0003

This chapter investigates how the medical relief endeavor converts waste into value for the broader global marketplace of biomedicine, creating an uneasy and often contradictory alliance between aid organizations and the inequalities of medical commerce. In the U.S., hospitals discard substantial medical supplies, ranging from pulse oximeters to respiratory tubing, largely due to insurance regulations. Since these cast-offs cannot be used in the U.S. due to risk of legal liability, aid agencies remove them from Midwest U.S. clinical spaces which, in turn, enables hospitals to claim tax credits for their donations and usher in new technologies. One foundational paradox, however, underlies the American supply of medical surplus to Lutherans in Madagascar and elsewhere: How do they affirm their moral relationship with foreign brethren through material things deemed by some to be institutional discards, ultimately cast off because of their non-usefulness or obsolescence in the U.S. hospital setting? By tracing how American aid workers attempt to resolve this ethical dilemma, the chapter uncovers how, within faith-based medical aid, different forms of valuation play a role in regulating the transnational circulation of medical discards.

Keywords:   Value, Waste economies, Global medicine, Risk, Medical relief, Christianity, NGOs, Midwest United States, Charitable aid

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