How to Rename a Hospital: Biomedical Technologies and New Combinations of Business and Charity in Cambodian Public Health
Abstract

This article explores how technologies forge new combinations of business and charity within health-related aid, particularly in post-socialist and post-humanitarian conjunctures. This is an ethnography of two cases in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: a multinational corporation donating biomedical technologies to government hospitals and a local NGO providing training in ultrasound imaging and free ultrasound services. I focus on the "commissioning ceremony" as a site of multiple enunciations about public and private, wealth and poverty, giving and receiving, and the role of technologies in "bringing healthcare to an acceptable level." Combinations of aid and entrepreneurialism are commonplace in Cambodian biomedicine, as they are in development more broadly. Yet humanitarianism is a lingering force. It can be seen in how a corporation entering an emerging market separates its donations from its sales, and how an NGO foregrounds its training over its sales. In these two cases, discourse of need and service to the poor enable technologies to circulate in private markets.


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