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Whiteness and the Midwest

Imagining the Heartland: White Supremacy and the American Midwest

Co-Authored with Joshua Reno

Available from the University of California Press

From Jefferson’s noble farmer to The Wizard of Oz, imagining the Midwest has quietly gone hand-in-hand with imagining whiteness as desirable and virtuous. Since at least the U.S. Civil War, the imagined Midwest has served as a screen or canvas, projecting and absorbing tropes and values of virtuous whiteness and its opposite, white deplorability, with national and global significance. Imagining the Heartland provides a poignant and timely answer to how and why the Midwest has played this role in the American imagination.

Book Reviews

Able Greenspan in Midwest Book Review

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Conversionary Sites: Transforming Medical Aid and Global Christianity

from Madagascar to the Minnesota

Available from the University of Chicago Press 

Honorable Mention for the 2020 Clifford Geertz Prize

Drawing on more than two years of participant observation in the American Midwest and in Madagascar among Lutheran clinicians, volunteer laborers, healers, evangelists, and former missionaries, Conversionary Sites investigates the role of religion in the globalization of medicine. Based on immersive research of a transnational Christian medical aid program, Britt Halvorson tells the story of a thirty-year-old initiative that aimed to professionalize and modernize colonial-era evangelism. Creatively blending perspectives on humanitarianism, global medicine, and the anthropology of Christianity, she argues that the cultural spaces created by these programs operate as multistranded “conversionary sites,” where questions of global inequality, transnational religious fellowship, and postcolonial cultural and economic forces are negotiated.
A nuanced critique of the ambivalent relationships among religion, capitalism, and humanitarian aid, Conversionary Sites draws important connections between religion and science, capitalism and charity, and the US and the Global South.

Book Reviews

Karine Aasgaard Jansen in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Pamela Klassen in Anthropological Quarterly

Thomas Hampton in Christian Relief, Development and Advocacy​

Thomas P. Gariepy in Choice

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