Doctors Without Borders: Humanitarian Quests, Impossible Dreams of Médecins Sans Frontières

e C. Fox. Johns Hopkins Univ, $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4214-1354-9
Medical sociologist Fox (Experiment Perilous) passionately yet objectivelyexamines the mission, growth, and culture of the renowned humanitarian group since its inception in 1971. Exploring its founding principles of “acting and speaking” and “treating and witnessing,” the author finds that MSF (the French acronym) has struggled both in the field and in “achieving a ‘without borders’ state of being.” Fox’s treatise describes in detail the internal battles MSF faced as its work reached across a war-torn world; in a sobering appraisal in 2006, MSF declared that its aid was diverted “for the benefit of war criminals” in Rwanda and Liberia in the 1990s, and that it had to fight to stay independent from “political influence” in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq in the early 2000s. Yet its aid in medically and socially challenged corners of the world seems to trump the organizational pains. Fox confesses she “wept” at a children’s performance in Khayeltsha in South Africa: “The juxtaposition of the life force that emanated from these children, and the deadly medical and social plagues with which they were surrounded was profoundly moving—both tragic and inspiring.” This is a commendably reflective work of sociology that, more importantly, tells a remarkable history of care. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-1-4214-1692-2
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