This year's seminar will explore the utility—and limitations—of metrics of efficacy and efficiency in global health practices. How do we count, for example, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of lives saved per intervention, the managerial efficiency of a given NGO? How do these practices craft what counts as feasible or impossible, reasonable intervention or fool’s errand? How does the notion of hierarchy of evidence affect the kind of questions that can be asked and what gets excluded or eclipsed from view in this process? How are measures developed and applied to what was not seen as measurable before? How are legal, medical and political institutions implicated in normalizing such practices of quantification and categorization? In deciding what kinds of bodies are visible—and what kinds are invisible—in the intervening gaze of global health? Our aim would be to place important historical and ethnographic examples in conversation with epidemiological and economic models to open the black box of "institutional rationality" that creates trust in these practices.
Department of Anthropology, New York University
Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Center for Health Care/Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University