Conversionary Sites: Transforming Medical Aid and Global Christianity from Madagascar to Minnesota
by Britt Halvorson
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Cloth: 978-0-226-55712-0 | Paper: 978-0-226-55726-7 | eISBN: 978-0-226-55743-4
Library of Congress Classification RA390.M6H35 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 266

Drawing on more than two years of participant observation in the American Midwest and in Madagascar among Lutheran clinicians, volunteer laborers, healers, evangelists, and former missionaries, Conversionary Sites investigates the role of religion in the globalization of medicine. Based on immersive research of a transnational Christian medical aid program, Britt Halvorson tells the story of a thirty-year-old initiative that aimed to professionalize and modernize colonial-era evangelism. Creatively blending perspectives on humanitarianism, global medicine, and the anthropology of Christianity, she argues that the cultural spaces created by these programs operate as multistranded “conversionary sites,” where questions of global inequality, transnational religious fellowship, and postcolonial cultural and economic forces are negotiated.
A nuanced critique of the ambivalent relationships among religion, capitalism, and humanitarian aid, Conversionary Sites draws important connections between religion and science, capitalism and charity, and the US and the Global South.

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