Beholden: Religion, Global Health, and Human Rights

ISBN : 9780199827763

Susan R. Holman
312 Pages
146 x 214 mm
Pub date
Apr 2015
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Global health-related efforts today are usually shaped by two very different ideological approaches. They either reflect a human rights-based approach to health and equity, often associated with public health, medicine, or economic development activities; or they express religious or humanitarian "aid," usually motivated by personal beliefs about charity, philanthropy, missional dynamics, and/or a ministry of "mercy." The underlying differences between these two approaches can create tensions and even outright hostility that affects and may even undermine the best intentions of those involved. In Beholden: Religion, Global Health, and Human Rights, Susan R. Holman-a scholar in both religion and the history of medicine-challenges this stereotypical polarization through stories designed to help shape a new lens on global health, one that envisions a multidisciplinary integration of respect for religion and culture with an equal respect for and engagement with human rights and social justice. The book's six chapters range broadly, from pilgrimage texts in the Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions, to the effect of ministry and public policy on the 19th century poorhouse; the story of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as it shaped economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights; a "religious health assets" approach based in Southern Africa; and the complex dynamics of gift exchange in the modern faith-based focus on charity, community, and the common good. The book will appeal to readers interested in global health, faith-based aid, public policy, humanitarian response, liberation theology, charity, gift exchange, and a good story.


1. Introduction: Toward a vision of the ought
2. Religious pilgrimage: From 'glocality' to global health
3. Private lens, public health: A reluctant physician in 19th century America
4. From Matthew 25 to Article 25: Why economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights matter
5. Between Cape Town and Memphis: Religious health assets
6. Don't teach me to fish: What's wrong with gift-charity?
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About the author: 

Research writer and editor, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; Managing editor of Health and Human Rights: An International Journal; author of The Hungry Are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia (OUP 2001, cl 504 sold), and God Knows There's Need: Christian Responses to Poverty(OUP 2009, cl 866 sold)

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