Many of medical anthropology's most pressing research questions require an understanding how infections, money, and ideas move around the globe. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a $9 billion project that has delivered 20 billion doses of oral polio vaccine in campaigns across the world. With its array of global activities, it cannot be comprehensively explored by the traditional anthropological method of research at one field site. This article describes an ethnographic study of the GPEI, a collaborative effort between researchers at eight sites in seven countries. We developed a methodology grounded in nuanced understandings of local context but structured to allow analysis of global trends. Here, we examine polio vaccine acceptance and refusal to understand how global phenomena-in this case, policy decisions by donors and global health organizations to support vaccination campaigns rather than building health systems-shape local behavior.
- comparative ethnography
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