Northwestern Events Calendar


Global Reproductive Health from Below: From Formal “Magic Bullets” to Informal Volunteer Practice

When: Friday, September 1, 2017
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  

Where: Prentice Women's Hospital, Canning Auditorium, 3rd Floor, 250 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Global Health   847.467.0750

Group: Global Health Studies

Category: Global & Civic Engagement


The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern, in partnership with the Program in Global Health Studies presents the 2017 Summer Global Women's Health Lecture Series.


Noelle Sullivan, PhD -- Global Reproductive Health from Below: From Formal “Magic Bullets” to Informal Volunteer Practice

Based on longitudinal ethnographic research in Tanzania since 2008, this talk discusses how reproductive health, and in particular childbirth and neonatal care, have been treated as a site for intervention by both formal global health programs, and informal practices undertaken by foreign volunteers. Formal interventions seek out “magic bullet” solutions where a technological or training intervention is hoped to save millions of lives despite the under-resourced contexts in which childbirth occurs. Volunteers conceptualize childbirth as a site where “things happen” and they can gain “experience”. This talk outlines what both forms of interventions mean in practice, for mothers, neonates, Tanzanian health professionals, and the health sector as a whole. -


Noelle Sullivan in a medical anthropologist who has been conducting qualitative research in health facilities in Tanzania since 2005. Her longitudinal project examines what becomes ‘in vogue’ in global health at the transnational and national stage, what programs and activities arise from those donor and state priorities, and what those interventions mean to the health facilities where they are carried out. Her most recent project explores international medical volunteering, including both host and foreigners’ perspectives on foreign volunteering in health facilities in Tanzania. Her work is published in Medical Anthropology, Space and Culture, Critical Public Health, African Diaspora and the edited book Volunteer Economies: Politics and Economics of Voluntary Labor in Africa by James Currey Press.

Dr. Sullivan has done invited lectures and keynotes on the results of her volunteering research at medical schools and global health programs throughout the United States, and is currently developing the results of that research into a book. For 2016-2017 Dr. Sullivan was a Public Voices Fellow at The Op-Ed Project.

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