AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists   
Type: Paper
Paper Title: VOLUNTEERS OR EXPLOITED LABOR?: PAKISTAN'S LADY HEALTH WORKERS IN THE POLIO ERADICATION INITIATIVE
Author: SVEA CLOSSER (Middlebury College)   
Date/Time: Wed., 12:00 PM
Co-Author(s): SVEA CLOSSER (Middlebury College) 
Abstract: Promotional literature for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative touts the efforts of 10 million “volunteers” in poor countries. This paper draws on interviews conducted with Lady Health Workers in Pakistan, one of the last four countries with endemic polio. Lady Health Workers are an important group of “volunteers” that carry out the work of immunizing all of Pakistan's 30 million children under five multiple times a year. In contrast to the international rhetoric, these Lady Health Workers view themselves as very poorly paid and exploited workers. Efforts by WHO employees in Pakistan in 2006 to raise “volunteer per diems” by a small amount were resisted by highly paid international WHO officials on the grounds that there was no proof it would lead to the "volunteers" working harder. The international discourse of volunteerism masks inequalities and power relations within global health projects, dynamics that have concrete implications for the success and failure of these projects. A key reason for continuing polio circulation in Pakistan is that Lady Health Workers and other putative “volunteers” upset about the issue of pay resist the demands paced on them by their supervisors.

Program Number: 1-0020
Session Title: VOLUNTEERISM IN CRISIS: RIGHTS, RITUAL AND REASON
Session Sponsor: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Wed., 12:00 PM-1:45 PM
Organizer(s): KENNETH MAES (Brown University) 
Chair(s): ALEXANDER RODLACH (Creighton University)  
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