"Life in Crisis" tells the story of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders or MSF) and its effort to "save lives" on a global scale. Begun in 1971 as a French alternative to the Red Cross, the MSF has grown into an international institution with a reputation for outspoken protest as well as technical efficiency. It has also expanded beyond emergency response, providing for a wider range of endeavors, including AIDS care. Yet its seemingly simple ethical goal proves deeply complex in practice. MSF continually faces the problem of defining its own limits. Its minimalist form of care recalls the promise of state welfare, but without political resolution or a sense of well-being beyond health and survival. Lacking utopian certainty, the group struggles when the moral clarity of crisis fades. Nevertheless, it continues to take action and innovate. Its organizational history illustrates both the logic and the tensions of casting humanitarian medicine into a leading role in international affairs.
Peter Redfield is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina. He is the author of Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana.
Contents List of Figures Acknowledgments Introduction Part 1: Terms of Engagement 1. A Time of Crisis 2. A Secular Value of Life Part 2: Global Ambitions 3. Vital Mobility 4. Moral Witness 5. Human Frontiers Part 3: Testing Limits 6. The Problem of Triage 7. The Longue Duree of Disease 8. The Verge of Crisis 9. Action beyond Optimism Epilogue Notes References Index