Linda Whiteford and Laurence Branch, Primary Health Care in Cuba: The Other Revolution
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Vaclav Havel once described life in communist countries as appearing relatively ordinary or unremarkable to outsiders. “The violence of our system,” he wrote, “will never be seen by a tourist or visitor.” Under these circumstances it is easy to forgive the limited gaze of tourists and casual visitors to Cuba, who focus primarily on beaches, rum, or other forms of tropical escapism. One does not, however, expect to find anthropologists in the same category as tourists or casual visitors. A discipline that centers around ethnographic inquiry and other forms of “getting the native′s point of view” necessarily fosters certain expectations regarding its scholarly products. In this regard, Primary Health Care in Cuba is a serious disappointment. Not only is the violence of the Cuban system rendered invisible in this account, the portrayal of health and medicine is highly idealized and disconnected from the everyday realities of life on the island.
The book aspires to illustrate how Cuba has...