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Catalog Archive / Spring 2021

Health in a Fragile State
Science, Sorcery, and Spirit in the Lower Congo

Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture
Neil Kodesh, Tejumola Olaniyan, and James H. Sweet, Series Editors

“Janzen has long been in the forefront of anthropological research on health in Africa; this is the culmination of an exceptional career. This book gives us the rich results of remarkable, many-sided research into public health in the Lower Congo and demonstrates the interdisciplinary capacity of anthropology at its best.”
—Wyatt MacGaffey, Haverford College

Based on extensive field research in the Manianga region of the Lower Congo, Health in a Fragile State is an anthropological account of public health and health care after the collapse of the Congolese state in the 1980s and 1990s. This work brings into focus John M. Janzen’s earlier books on African health and healing, revealing the collaborative effort by local, national, and international agencies to create viable alternative institutions to those that represented the centralized state. This book documents and analyzes the realignment of existing institutions and the creation of new ones that shape health and healing.

Janzen explores the manner in which power and information, including science, are legitimized in the preservation and improvement of health. Institutional validity and knowledge empower citizens and health practitioners to gain the upper hand over the region’s principal diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, and HIV/AIDS.


Author. Photo credit, Name John M. Janzen Janzen is a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kansas. He is the author of The Quest for Therapy in Lower Zaire; Lemba, 1650–1930: A Drum of Affliction in Africa and the New World; Ngoma: Discourses of Healing in Central and Southern Africa; and many articles on health, healing, religion, and society in Central Africa and the Atlantic diaspora.




“This is a highly original work in medical anthropology that, rare to see, uses survey data, timelines, and graphic evidence while combining multiple epistemological approaches. Scholars will be fascinated to read this new disease-based and global health approach from the ever-pioneering John Janzen.”
—Nancy Rose Hunt, author of A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo



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Health in a Fragile State: Cover showing a set of hands under a faucet.

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New in Paperback!
May 2021
LC: 2019008136 RA
288 pp. 6 x 9
36 b/w illus., 17 tables, 7 maps

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Paper $21.95 S
ISBN 9780299325046
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Casebound $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299325008
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