AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details

Session Information:
This session may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges     Students  Students
Program Number: 1-0020
Type: Session
Session Sponsor: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Society for Medical Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Wed., 12:00 PM-1:45 PM
Organizer(s): KENNETH MAES (Brown University) 
Chair(s): ALEXANDER RODLACH (Creighton University) 
12:00 PM: SVEA CLOSSER (Middlebury College) -- Volunteers or Exploited Labor?: Pakistan's Lady Health Workers in the Polio Eradication Initiative  
12:15 PM: MARTY MARTINSON (San Francisco State University) -- Critical Perspectives on the Promotion of Older Adult Volunteerism  
12:30 PM: KENNETH MAES (Brown University) -- The Ritual Basis of Sustainability: Motivating the "Untapped Volunteer Spirit" in HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs in Urban Ethiopia  
12:45 PM: ALEXANDER RODLACH (Creighton University) -- Faith-Based Organizations and Volunteerism - Providing Care for People Living With HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe  
1:00 PM: OLAGOKE AKINTOLA -- Not All Pain Is Gain: An Exploration of the Costs and Benefits of AIDS Care Voluntering in Africa  
1:15 PM: DISCUSSANT: PETER BROWN (Emory University )  
1:45 PM: End of Session
Abstract: Volunteerism has recently attained increasing prominence in development and population health projects around the globe, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the use of volunteers appears to be accelerating. With the rollout of AIDS therapies in low-income regions, for instance, impoverished volunteers have become a major part of health and development workforces. At least three underlying assumptions motivate policy-makers and programmers to promote volunteerism in population health and development efforts in “resource-constrained” contexts: 1) that volunteerism is economically imperative for the sustainability of services; 2) that volunteer or altruistic service and care can be beneficial to the psychosocial wellbeing of the giver; and 3) that local communities are full of “untapped” moral and social energy, producing an abundance of individuals ready to donate their labor to make their communities healthier. Anthropologists and allied social scientists studying health and development must maintain critical and scientific approaches to the uses and experiences of volunteers in various socioeconomic and cultural contexts. Collectively, the papers in this panel will examine volunteerism in diverse contexts of so-called crisis. “Crisis” here has a double meaning – on the one hand, some of the papers in this panel will deal with volunteers who fulfill human resource needs in contexts of severe economic constraints, epidemics, and aging population structures; while others will adopt a critical approach to volunteerism in times of food and financial crises, seeking to understand potentially negative social outcomes of promoting volunteerism instead of public and private sector job creation or public spending to address basic needs of marginalized groups (e.g. rural poor, people living with HIV/AIDS, and elders). Together, the papers in this panel will balance understandings of the potential beneficial and harmful economic and psychosocial effects of volunteering in settings characterized by protracted resource-scarcity, disasters, inequity, and weak governance. Parts of the panel will engage with the social and economic rights of low-income volunteers to fair wages and job security; the reasons why people volunteer in various cultural and socioeconomic contexts; and the role of ritual in sustaining, controlling, and generating consensus among volunteers’ motivations. The papers in this panel represent an incredible array of diversity in terms of both geographic focus (sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Tasmania, and the U.S.) and academic disciplines.


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