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Cheap Labor for Global Health: Perspectives from Ethiopia

Center Research Fellow Lecture at the Autzen House

Monday, November 4, 2013 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Kenneth Maes, Research Fellow, Anthropology Faculty
School of Language, Culture, and Society, OSU


Nearly a decade ago, pharmaceutical companies, donors, and health authorities finally began to provide free antiretroviral therapies to people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to meet the goal of putting millions of people on these drug therapies, international and local health organizations called on thousands of unemployed, impoverished women and men to volunteer to provide home-based care and drug adherence support.

Drawing on ethnographic work in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, focusing on volunteers’ testimonies and health authorities’ attempts to justify their reliance on unpaid labor, Kenny Maes asks: are these volunteers cheap, insecure labor for a misguided and under-regulated humanitarian industry? Or are they a vibrant example of how people—amid poverty, stigmatization, and neglect—can heroically create solidarity and attain spiritual fulfillment through intimately caring for others?


Autzen House (campus map)
Joy Futrell
1 541 737 2450
Joy.Futrell at oregonstate.edu
Center for the Humanities
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