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Stepping out of the Anthropological Lens for Social Justice

One of the most impacting statements throughout Paul Farmer’s analysis of Public Health,  is his critique on the power that anthropology has in disassociating the needs because of local ideology or long standing tradition. It is by far the first time I have seen this statement really become known especially in the case that Paul Farmer is presenting. Such an idea makes it a staple and necessary when discussing the pursuit of Human Rights and the application of doctrine which is necessary for the creation of social justice. Where do we draw the line, when can we provide this intervention and how can we determine when the ideological state and culture needs to be surpassed in order to provide Westernized support to these people.

One of the major concerns throughout the conversation of implementation of Westernized situations being placed in third world settings has been a conversation within the classroom setting. I would like to specifically revisit the conversation on Plumpy’ Nut. This is one of the initiatives that provides an alternative form of feeding these communities that for centuries were basing their nutrition on their crops and agriculture. More and more we see programs mainly from the Western world (Plumpy Nut is from Virginia), that are being incorporated to eradicate third world problems. However, while most saw this as such an ideal aspect in providing a source of nutrition for these children, I saw this as a problem. I question Paul Farmer, when it comes to choosing when we should move away from the anthropological lens, because situations such as Plumpy Nut may be hurting a community more than they are helping.  We can provide the health rights to food access, but are we doing anything when food production is not being taught to the people, must there always be doctors from throughout the world in order for malnourished communities to get the food they need?


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