The Socialist Humanitarian Imperative: The Logic and Practice of Cuba's Quest for Global Health in the Americas
This paper explores how a small, resource-poor nation such as Cuba has become a leading figure in delivering “humanitarian biomedicine” to the world’s poor, as Cuban officials note. Does Cuba’s project of “exporting doctors”—more recently, on a massive scale—constitute what anthropologist James Ferguson describes as an “inconvenient case,” that is, a case that stands in stark contrast to theories of global connection and that ruptures the romantic portrayals of flows of capital, goods, commodities, and people? On the surface, Cuba's socialist humanitarian imperative eschews traditional binaries of capital flow from the North to the South. But, a more fruitful line of questioning emerges: Is there another logic at work here? Cuba’s medical internationalism programs require us to ponder seriously the implications of what it means to export la Revolución in the name of humanitarianism.
Sean Brotherton is an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale University. His research and teaching interests are concerned with the critical study of health, medicine, the state, subjectivity, and the body – drawing upon contemporary social theory and postcolonial studies. He is the author of Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba published by Duke University Press, in 2012, and several articles and guest edited journal issues that appear in Medical Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, and Anthropologie et Sociétés. He is currently writing a book on Cuba's medical internationalism programs as a lens to analyze the emergent logics and counter-practices that are taking shape in relation to the dominant global health model. He is also developing another project in Buenos Aires, Argentina on how psychoanalytical frames of reference become embodied as idioms of distress in how people narrate physical and mental well being.
This event is cosponsored by the Department of Anthropology.