Neoliberal logics and calculations have been incorporated into strategies for global health management as rational, technical, scientific guarantors of the integrity and dignity of The Human. NGOs demonstrate, accrue and trade in virtue to gain support, funding and prestige. They field site-visit teams which conduct audits of local partners, review programme data and collect images and narratives of and from the recipients of aid. These images and narratives are used to assess the performance of their local partners and win new donations and volunteers in their home countries. These powerful images and harrowing stories appear in NGO media, establishing the NGOs’ humanitarian credentials. Images of the ill, abandoned and poor are put to work among distant actors as assurances that funds are being efficiently applied and that these efforts are ‘doing good’. The practice is commonplace within a contemporary neoliberalised health humanitarian apparatus. This process both requires and produces particular subjects and structure relationships between and among NGOs, their posited receiving publics, donors and constituents. Specific imperilled persons and histories are rendered abstractions, immediately graspable and ostensibly unmediated within a specific grammar of global southern suffering. Digitised they become, in a specific, contemporary way, immortal; never changing, but imminently interchangeable.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Taylor & Francis
Montoya, A. (2015). Digital relics of the saints of affliction: HIV/AIDS, digital images and the neoliberalisation of health humanitarianism in contemporary Vietnam. Mortality, 20(4), 334-350. doi: 10.1080/13576275.2015.1083727