Incorporating investigative journalism and drawing on interviews with participants and leaders, Sandy Smith-Nonini examines the contested place of health and development in El Salvador over the last two decades. ""Healing the Body Politic"" recounts the dramatic story of radical health activism from its origins in liberation theology and guerrilla medicine during the third-world country's twelve-year civil war, through development of a remarkable 'popular health system', administered by lay providers in a former war zone controlled by leftist rebels. This ethnography casts light on the conflicts between the conservative Ministry of Health and primary health advocates during the 1990s peace process - a time when the government sought to dismantle the effective peasant-run rural system. It offers a rare analysis of the White Marches of 2002-2003, when radicalized physicians rose to national leadership in a successful campaign against privatization of the social security health system. ""Healing the Body Politic"" contributes to the productive integration of medical and political anthropology by bringing the semiotics of health and the body to bear on cultural understandings of warfare, the state, and globalization.
SANDY SMITH-NONINI is a research assistant professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of the Peter K. New Prize from the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Richard Carley Hunt Award from the Wenner Gren Foundation.