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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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Conversionary Sites in Global Christianities

Conversionary Sites in Global Christianities

(p.1) Introduction Conversionary Sites in Global Christianities
Conversionary Sites

Britt Halvorson

University of Chicago Press

The introduction situates the medical relief model in the inequalities and cultural differences of globalized medicine. As the Malagasy state collapsed in the late 1970s, the local Lutheran Church organized a health care system called Sampan’asa Loterana Momba Ny Fahasalamana (SALFA) to centralize foreign aid and dispense medical donations throughout the island. Former American Lutheran missionaries established two NGOs at this time to supply emergency aid to Malagasy Lutheran clinics. However, since that time, these agencies have become supply chains linking the U.S. biomedical establishment and the Malagasy Lutheran health care system, circulating regular shipments of U.S. biomedical discards, unused but recovered objects, and other donated medical technologies. The chapter introduces the two NGOs, which I call International Health Mission and Malagasy Partnership, and describes the biblical model of “accompanying” foreign churches from afar that now guides the medical aid relationship. It develops the notion of medical aid spaces as conversionary sites revaluing social relations at the intersection of global Christianity and global medical commerce. The introduction presents the multi-sited ethnographic research underpinning the book and lays out the structure of the text.

Keywords:   value conversions, medical aid, global medicine, multi-sited ethnography, NGOs, Christianity

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