Mountains Beyond Mountains is Tracy Kidder’s chronicle of the first two decades of Dr. Paul Farmer’s health-related work in Haiti and elsewhere. Through a close reading of that book, this essay contends that Mountains portrays Farmer as a Christ-like figure. In doing so, Kidder’s book bolsters a dominant doctrine that—by analogy with the Christian belief that salvation comes “from above”—might be called “health from above.” According to that rampant creed, wealthy and powerful individuals, organizations, institutions, and governments possess the sole prerogative to define and manage “health” for everyone on the planet. By consigning Farmer’s Haitian colleagues and patients largely to an anonymous, background status, Mountains prevents readers from wondering what indigenous ideas and systems of health might look like, for Haitians and hundreds of millions of others worldwide, were they less constrained by the reigning myopia of health from above. This critique concludes by asking whether unique ideas and systems of health could still emerge from disadvantaged persons—whether “health from below” remains possible, that is—in a media-saturated world.
"INDIGENOUS HEALTH’S GODLIKE NEMESIS: MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS AS VECTOR FOR THE “HEALTH” OF THE RICH AND POWERFUL,"
Catalyst: A Social Justice Forum: Vol. 4
, Article 2.
Available at: https://trace.tennessee.edu/catalyst/vol4/iss1/2