Hanneke Pot: INGO Behavior Change Projects: Culturalism and Teenage Pregnancies in Malawi

In Medical Anthropology, 2019.

Author

Hanneke Pot

Abstract

Adolescent girls are at the center of many health development interventions. Based on ethnographic research in rural Malawi, I analyze the design, implementation, and reception of an international non-government organization’s project aiming to reduce teenage pregnancies by keeping girls in school. Drawing on Fassin’s theorization of culturalism as ideology, I analyze how a tendency to overemphasize culture is inherent to the project’s behavior change approach, but is reinforced locally by class-shaped notions of development, and plays out through reinforcing ethnic stereotypes. I argue that culturalism builds upon previous health development initiatives that dichotomized modernity and tradition, and is strengthened by short-term donor funding.

Keywords

Malawibehavioral changeculturalismharmful cultural practicesteenage pregnancies

Published Mar. 4, 2019 1:40 PM - Last modified Mar. 4, 2019 1:40 PM