Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 181–197 | Cite as

Peace in the Clinic: Rethinking “Global Health Diplomacy” in the Somali Region of Ethiopia

  • Lauren CarruthEmail author
Original Paper


Drawing on ethnographic research with Somalis, within aid organizations, and within health care facilities in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, this article argues that what is called “global health diplomacy,” despite its origins and articulations in interstate politics, is fundamentally local and interpersonal. As evidence, I outline two very different health programs in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, and how, in each, existing animosities and political grievances were either reinforced or undermined. I argue that the provision of health care in politically insecure and post-conflict settings like the Somali Region of Ethiopia is precarious but pivotal: medical encounters have the potential to either worsen the conditions in which conflicts and crises recur, or build new interpersonal and governmental relations of trust. Effective global health diplomacy, therefore, cannot be limited to building clinics and donating medicine, but must also explicitly include building positive relationships of trust between oppositional groups within clinical spaces.


Global health Humanitarian assistance Post-conflict reconciliation Peace Horn of Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Institute for Global & International Studies, Elliott School of International AffairsGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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