Drawing analyses of global health together with scholarship on life in African cities, this talk focuses on the gendered urban and transnational circuits through which young urban residents seek and claim medical care in a context where humanitarian organizations and global health projects are important sources of medical care and treatment. Attending to how politics, family, entrepreneurial ambitions, and public supports intersect in the quest for care, McKay suggests that urban life, and especially the lives of women in the city, is a particularly good site for asking about the kinds of subjects and forms of health that are available in the midst of transnational medical regimes and rapidly changing urban spaces, and about the economic, relational, and urban conditions that enable care, and that care enables. Ultimately, this approach argues for greater and more expansive attention to the role of urban space, economy, and exchange in understanding health in local and transnational spaces.
Trained as an anthropologist, Ramah McKay’s research focuses on the politics of health in Mozambique. Her first book, Medicine in the Meantime: The work of care in Mozambique, traces the lives and afterlives of two transnational medical projects through the experiences of global health workers and the patients they served. Her ongoing work examines the ways in which ideas about space, place, and geography shape medical economies in the context of global Africa. A faculty member in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. McKay’s teaching interests encompass humanitarianism and global health, health and healing in Africa, and critical perspectives on health and development.