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Mountains Beyond Mountains

Mountains Beyond Mountains

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What are the most important or valuable ideas or arguments in this book? Where does Kidder’s text best convey these ideas and why? Why do those ideas matter so much to Farmer and to you (should they matter to the rest of us as well)? Make your case.
In your 6+ page (1,500 – 2,000 word) typed, double-spaced paper, please show through examples and key quotes form the Kidder text—as well as through your own outside research—why the themes you have chosen matter so much. Persuade your reader to agree with you—and illuminate the value of the book itself—at the same time. I suggest working with 1-3 themes (depending on how far in depth you wish to go on any particular theme; just one may have many aspects and be plenty to handle).

You are asked to independently research and incorporate into your paper at least two substantial outside sources to help you support your position regarding the importance/ value of the arguments you illuminate. Please formally introduce each text you weave into your paper and cite each responsibly using MLA method both in-text—and in Works Cited. Before using, evaluate your sources in terms of authority, accuracy, bias, and currency. It’s OK if one of the outside sources you incorporate and cite is from our course readings. But find the second one totally on your own.

The draft needs to be uploaded to your final peer review workshop by Saturday, June 11th, at 11:55 PM. Peer assessment phase will continue through Monday night, June 13th, also at 11:55 PM. Finished papers should be uploaded no later than Thursday, June 16th, by 11:55 PM.



—illustrates and illuminates various ways in which health is a political issue.

—draws a clear connection between poverty and poor health/treatment & invents new ways to approach and both treatment and prevention in several key areas.

—articulates and debunks various myths and false assumptions about Haiti (Voodoo, AIDS, treating the poor, etc.) and about the poor.

—offers a disturbing grassroots political commentary on social injustice in Haiti and the effects of the United States’ seemingly frequently misguided policies and interventions.

—shows the values of anthropology and ethnography in relation to and in conjunction with the field of healthcare.

—valiantly insists on an absolute commitment to social and economic justice as the centerpiece of a moral life.

—shows how “a small group of committed individuals can change the world” (164).

—confronts the self absorption and false assumptions of privileged classes, including even other doctors, “white liberals,” world health officials, etc.

—offers a model for how critical thinking and the insistent reexamination & critique of underlying assumptions can lead to startling new clarity and discovery, in both the hard sciences and social sciences.

—redefines (and perhaps as fully as possible, enacts) the liberation theology ideology of providing preferential treatment for the poor (“a preferential option for the poor”).

—models, demonstrates how one can in fact “design one’s life” to do “the right thing well” (265).

—“embrace[s] a continuity and interconnectedness that exclude[s] no one” (219), which is to say, boldly refuses to dehistoricize, erase, obscure, forget—and thereby dehumanize—anything or anyone.

— inspires us to be multifaceted: combines cutting edge medical thinking with enlightened sociopolitical analysis; combines activism with scholarship; combines Harvard and Haiti, Brigham and Zanmi Lasante.

—records and lucidly explains scientific breakthroughs in treating MDR tuberculosis alongside the sociopolitical context surrounding that progress.


Writing a paper like this one should allow you to “mark a book in your memory.” By writing about the book, its themes and discourses can become a more established part of your mind (and your lexicon). This could be for many of us a text that inhabits our lives in significant ways, helping us define key value terms and relate to a host of significant contemporary issues and discourses. My hope is that as you write that most of you will find a way to feel the pleasure, the power, and what Farmer would surely call the privilege (or luxury) of that experience of writing about important ideas—not just for a grade or as a requirement for a course—but more importantly to absorb those ideas in your own unique and particular way, as a part of your own life, as related to your own proclivities and interests. What does the text give you; how does it matter to you. Make it yours.



1) Try a lead that grabs your reader, and then a thesis paragraph that clearly states your claim and at best implies the shape (structure) your essay will now take.

2) Once you decide what excites you the most and what you want to write about, go back to the text and reread — find the very best supporting quotes you can to help you make your case. Your writing informs the richness of your reading and vice versa.

3) Yes, some part of what you will necessarily be doing is summary presentation of Farmer’s work: thereby illuminating the importance of Farmer’s work and Kidder’s book. But please emphasize analysis: establish why the themes you have chosen are so important. In other words, you are making your own case; you are using Kidder’s book, and your other research, to make that case.

4) Transitions: try to write paragraphs with clear purpose and focus and intelligent transitions that move your discussion along and focus the topic and purpose of the next paragraph. Just one random example: “Not only does Farmer show ____, but he also shows ____. In other words: “Not only was Farmer redefining what had stood as time-honored normas for the treatment of tuberculosis up that point, but he also was redefining the whole notion of what a doctor should be and what a doctor should pay attention to.”

5) Don’t be too stiff & formulaic if you can avoid it. Develop your paper in creative ways; explore new ideas. The goal is to learn from what you write and allow your reader a glimpse into the process of your engagement and learning through reading and writing.

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