Pathologies of Power uses harrowing stories of life -- and death -- in extreme situations to interrogate our understanding of human rights. Paul Farmer, a physician and anthropologist with twenty years of experience working in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, argues that promoting the social and economic rights of the world's poor is the most important human rights struggle of our times. With passionate eyewitness accounts from the prisons of Russia and the beleaguered villages of Haiti and Chiapas, this book links the lived experiences of individual victims to a broader analysis of structural violence. Farmer challenges conventional thinking within human rights circles and exposes the relationships between political and economic injustice, on one hand, and the suffering and illness of the powerless, on the other.
Farmer shows that the same social forces that give rise to epidemic diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis also sculpt risk for human rights violations. He illustrates the ways that racism and gender inequality in the United States are embodied as disease and death. Yet this book is far from a hopeless inventory of abuse. Farmer's disturbing examples are linked to a guarded optimism that new medical and social technologies will develop in tandem with a more informed sense of social justice. Otherwise, he concludes, we will be guilty of managing social inequality rather than addressing structural violence. Farmer's urgent plea to think about human rights in the context of global public health and to consider critical issues of quality and access for the world's poor should be of fundamental concern to a world characterized by the bizarre proximity of surfeit and suffering.
About the Author
Paul Farmer is Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School and Founding Director of Partners
In Health. Among his books are
Inequalities: The Modern Plagues (California, 1999), The Uses of Haiti (1994), and AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame (California, 1992). Farmer is the winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and the Margaret Mead Award for his contributions to public anthropology. He recently held the Blaise Pascal
International Chair at the College de France. Amartya Sen, whose work challenges conventional market-driven economic paradigms, is the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics. He teaches at Trinity College, Cambridge University.
Read an Excerpt
From the Foreword:
"Paul Farmer is a great doctor with massive experience working against the hardest of diseases in the most adverse circumstances, and, at the same time, he is a proficient and insightful anthropologist. Farmer's knowledge of maladies such as AIDS and drug-resistant tuberculosis, which he fights on behalf of his indigent patients, is hard to match. But what is particularly relevant in appreciating the contribution of this powerful book is that Farmer is a visionary analyst who looks beyond the details of fragmentary explanations to seek an integrated understanding of a complex reality."--Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, Economics
Table of Contents
|Part I.||Bearing Witness||23|
|1.||On Suffering and Structural Violence: Social and Economic Rights in the Global Era||29|
|2.||Pestilence and Restraint: Guantanamo, AIDS, and the Logic of Quarantine||51|
|3.||Lessons from Chiapas||91|
|4.||A Plague on All Our Houses? Resurgent Tuberculosis inside Russia's Prisons||115|
|Part II.||One Physician's Perspective on Human Rights||135|
|5.||Health, Healing, and Social Justice: Insights from Liberation Theology||139|
|6.||Listening for Prophetic Voices: A Critique of Market-Based Medicine||160|
|7.||Cruel and Unusual: Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis as Punishment||179|
|8.||New Malaise: Medical Ethics and Social Rights in the Global Era||196|
|9.||Rethinking Health and Human Rights: Time for a Paradigm Shift||213|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a twentysomething trying to figure out my career path, I found Farmer's overall message and his obvious passion very inspirational. Though the book deals with grim realities, Farmer offers refreshing and proactive ways to start to grapple with complex human rights issues. Though written from a physician-anthrolopologist's perspective and intended for health professionals/students, it's accessible for layreaders as well. The only weakness is the slight redundancy, since some of the chapters seem to have been adapated from Farmer's previous work and thus overlap considerably. Overall, highly recommended!
Once again Dr. Paul Farmer puts his finger on the pulse of the collective poor and marginalized and renders a nuanced analysis of the inequities in health care in the populations that he serves, namely, Cange, Haiti, Peru, Mexico and Russia.