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The War Machine and Global Health by Abigail E. Adams, Hans Baer


The War Machine and Global Health by Abigail E. Adams, Hans Baer

In the contemporary world, war rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality. Since the end of World War II, there have been at least 160 wars around the world with as many as 25 million (and probably many more) people killed, most of them civilians. Directly or indirectly, war touches the lives of most people on the planet, often with lasting and costly impact. Framed by the holistic and ethnographically grounded theoretical perspective of critical medical anthropology, and more broadly by the political economy of health, this book of essays by leading medical anthropologists and other health social scientists carefully examines the global effects of war, the war industry, and the international weapons trade on human health and well-being. Further, this book goes beyond offering a lively and readable account of a pressing health concern by critically analyzing the political and economic forces driving the war machine to inflict ever-increasing levels of social suffering and loss of life.


This is anthropology for the upcoming century. Deeply relevant, morally engaged, theoretically astute, ethnographically rich. The authors take us on a global journey into the intersections of war and its devastating effects on health - the health of people, of politics, and of our tomorrows. -- Carolyn Nordstrom, University of Notre Dame The editors and contributors present comprehensive discussions on the health consequences of local, national, and global wars; war machinery; and war economies. War directly causes morbidity and mortality, and the destruction of economies and infrastructures has profound effects on the survivors, causing malnutrition, disabilities, public health disasters, mental health problems, and psychosocial trauma. The stressful aftermath of war is especially devastating to the most vulnerable members of a population, such as children, women, and elderly people. The book also touches on the damaging effects war has on human social life, such as the creation of lasting hatred between clashing populations. Furthermore, the war machine supported by key industries plays an important role in global warming, which in turn causes more environment-related health problems as well as additional armed conflicts over seeking and controlling increasingly scarce resources. The capitalist political economy characteristic of endless development and exploration is cited as one of the driving forces of the global war machine. A must read in contemporary critical medical anthropology. Essential. CHOICE, November 2010 An insightful review of some of the major consequences of war, including its impacts on global warming and child soldiers. This book provides valuable discussions of specific wars, ranging from Iraq to Central America, and on the long-term effects of war, such as the Spanish civil war. It should be required reading for everyone interested in the impact of armed conflict on global and international health. -- Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel, Co-editors, War and Public Health and Terrorism and Public Health

About the Author

Merrill Singer is currently senior research scientist at the Center of Health, Intervention and Prevention and professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He also is a research affiliate of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) at Yale University. G. Derrick Hodge is a medical anthropologist and political economist who currently teaches at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He is also an adjunct professor of medical anthropology to graduate students at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

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Book Info

Publication date

16th January 2010


Abigail E. Adams, Hans Baer

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AltaMira Press,U.S.


332 pages


Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography
Peace studies & conflict resolution
Armed conflict



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