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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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Translating Aid, Brokering Identity

Translating Aid, Brokering Identity

Malagasy Doctors as Precarious Heroes

(p.174) Chapter Five Translating Aid, Brokering Identity
Conversionary Sites

Britt Halvorson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the emergence and experiences of Merina and Betsileo Malagasy Lutheran doctors and administrators who act as cultural translators or “middle figures” to the two American NGOs (cf. Hunt 1999). Rooting this subject position in Malagasy cultural practices of ethnic and regional differentiation, the chapter compares the role of Merina and Betsileo Malagasy physicians in the American aid relationship to the deeper cultural history of Merina-Anglo Protestant alliances well-documented in Malagasy ethnography and history. It examines three cultural activities – narratives that depict Malagasy Christian doctors as keepers of the Christian quality of medical care, medical case studies, and Malagasy doctors’ visits to U.S. Christian global health conferences – through which Merina and Betsileo physicians rework and perform the category expectations of this aid subjectivity, which combines qualities of the medical doctor, humanitarian and foreign missionary. The sum of these parts is a view of aid subjectivities as dynamic cultural formations that emerge from a confluence of factors, compelled into action through the conditions of aid while being rooted in Malagasy cultural histories and worked upon and transformed by both Malagasy and Americans.

Keywords:   Subjectivity, Aid broker, Cultural translation, Madagascar, Doctors, Global health, Christianity

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