Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Medical Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists
Primary Theme: Health
Secondary Theme: Science
The inspiration for this panel is the recent turn in global health towards what one might call an innovation imperative in which technical interventions and entrepreneurial solutions to pressing and complex health problems in humanitarian and low resource settings are increasingly prioritized over other approaches. New and re-purposed technological interventions, such as mHealth, digital medicine platforms, portable biomedical devices, and new clinical protocols are promoted by global health actors—particularly philanthrocapitalists foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—as simple, high-impact, and low-cost solutions that can be scaled up without investment in infrastructure.
In this panel, we approach global health technology innovations through the Foucauldian idea of techniques of the body in order to explore how technologies propose and cultivate new subjectivities, alter projects of self-making, articulate with modes of consumption and assemble biosocial groups. Health technologies can both discipline and liberate their users (Hardon and Moyer 2014), inspire both confidence and doubt about the capacity of the state (Redfield 2012: 158), and reinforce neoliberal subjectivity or spark resistance.
The new imperative of innovation in global health poses many questions: How does a technological approach in global health sit in tension with the need for health infrastructure? How are the techniques and technologies of global health imagining users and engendering new subjectivities amongst intended recipients? How fitting are notions of empowerment and the right to health to describe access to medical technologies at the community level? How do the metrics stack up? How can ethnographic research on technologies capture consequences not imagined or tracked by clinical studies or development reports?