Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 324–328 | Cite as

Peter Redfield: Life in Crisis: The Ethical Journey of Doctors Without Borders

University of California Press, Berkley, 2013, 298 pp
  • Darryl Stellmach
Book Review

Humanitarian action has attracted increased anthropological interest in the past decade. Life in Crisis is a significant addition to this literature: the first book-length ethnographic monograph of a medical humanitarian non-governmental organization. It is the product of nearly ten years’ reflection on the medical aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders or MSF). Since 2003, Peter Redfield has spent time in MSF’s projects in Uganda and at various international offices. His work draws on these experiences, as well as in-depth reading of reports, press materials, and reflections by and about the organization.

MSF defies easy definition. With five headquarters and a complex assembly of national offices and interventions, MSF is a loosely coordinated—yet highly professional—medical collective. Redfield asserts that, despite its decentralized and often disordered nature, the movement is united by its secular humanitarian belief in the sacredness of human life....

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social and Cultural AnthropologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Wolfson CollegeOxfordUK

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