Health Policy,
Local Realities:

The Fallacy of
the Level
Playing Field

Edited by

Lenore Manderson,
& Linda M. Whiteford

as part of
Directions in Applied Anthropology


International health planners often design programs based on the assumption that recipient nations share the same “level playing field” with regard to conceptions of health, illness, and at-risk populations. This volume challenges that perception, analyzing the outcomes of humanitarian projects that fail to recognize local ethnic and national identities, as well as the tensions between international health agencies’ mandates and powerful centralized government agendas. Case studies are drawn from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.


Linda M. Whiteford is professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida. She is widely published on social aspects of health and illness. Lenore Manderson is professor women’s health at the University of Melbourne. She is author of Sickness and the State: Health and Illness in Colonial Malaya, 1870-1940 and coeditor (with Pranee Rice) of Maternity and Reproductive Health in Asian Societies.


“An excellent collection of essays that clearly demonstrate the heterogeneous local level impacts of global health policies, the factors that mediate these responses, and the unique methods and perspectives that anthropologists can bring to understanding the issues.”—Sylvia Abonyi, Practicing Anthropology

“This book needs to be read and reread by all anthropologists venturing into, or even just tempted to enter, the field of international public health.”—Ronald Frankenberg, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“An outstanding collection of ethnographically-based case studies/views of how global health policies are experienced locally.”—Kerry Feldman

a table of

& Authors

Introduction: Health, Globalization, and the Fallacy of the Level Playing Fieldthe Editors.

The Politics of Child SurvivalJ. Justice.

Administering the Epidemic: HIV/AIDS Policy, Models of Development, and International HealthR. Parker.

Local Identity, Globalization, and Health in Cuba and the Dominican RepublicL.M. Whiteford.

Health Care from the Perspectives of Minahasa Villagers, IndonesiaP. van Eeuwijk.

The King’s Law Stops at the Village Gate: Local and Global Pharmacy Regulation in VietnamD. Craig.

The Business of Medicines and the Politics of Knowledge in UgandaS. Reynolds Whyte and H. Birungi.

Bodies Transported: Health and Identity Among Involuntary Immigrant WomenL. Manderson, M. Markovic, and M. Kelaher.

Poverty, Pity, and the Erasure of Power: Somali Refugee DependencyC. Zarowsky.

Ethical Issues in Human Organ Replacement: A Case Study from IndiaP.A. Marshall and A. Daar.

Does Authoritative Knowledge in Infant Nutrition Lead to Successful Breastfeeding? A Critical PerspectiveA. Castro and L. Marchand-Lucas.

Reforming Routines: A Baby-Friendly Hospital in Urban ChinaS. Zhang Gottschang.

International Health Research: The Rules of the GameJ. Trostle.