Book announcement: The Work of Hospitals

Group Moderator

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of our volume:


The Work of Hospitals

Global Medicine in Local Cultures


Afterword by Claire Wendland
Edited by 
William C. OlsenCarolyn Sargent
Contributions by 
William C. OlsenCarolyn SargentMorgan K. HokeSamya R. StumoThomas L. LeathermanAnita HannigCheryl MattinglyJohn M. JanzenMark NichterGhislain Emmanuel SopohRoch Christian JohnsonAnita CharyPeter RohloffAdrienne E. StrongVania Smith-OkaKayla HurdElisa (EJ) SoboEugenia GeorgesEmma Varley


Rutgers University Press, 2022


Underlying the chapters in The Work of Hospitals is a fundamental question: how do hospitals function lacking the medications, equipment and technologies, and personnel normally assumed to be necessary? This collection of ethnographies demonstrates how hospital administrators, clinicians, and other staff in hospitals around the world confront innumerable risks in their commitment to deliver health care, including civil unrest, widespread poverty, endemic and epidemic disease, and supply chain instability. Ultimately, The Work of Hospitals documents a vast gulf between the idealized mission of the hospital and the implementation of this mission in everyday practice. Hospitals thus become “contested space” between policy and practice. 

Reviews: “Drawing on a range of evocative and sometimes shocking examples, The Work of Hospitals showcases the value of comparative, ethnographic research, beautifully asserting the enduring significance of the clinical space as a lens through which to understand society. Hospitals are spaces of refracted power, surveillance, and Othering, but also inevitably of experimentation. "

--Elizabeth Hull, author of Contingent Citizens: Professional Aspiration in a South African Hospital

"A landmark study of the hospital as a social space caught up in global and neoliberal logics. The book's incisive case studies explore moments of care and canny improvisation in the face of structural neglect. By showing how professionals, patients, and families engage each other on contested hospital landscapes, the book makes an important contribution to the anthropology of medicine, power and care in a global age." 

--Paul Brodwin, author of Everyday Ethics: Voices from the Front Line of Community Psychiatry


Best regards,

Bill Olsen and Carolyn Sargent