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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Introduction. An Anthropologist among the Demographers: Assembling Data in Survey Research Worlds  1
    1. The Office in the Field: Building Survey Infrastructures  31
    2. Living Project to Project: Brokering Local Knowledge in the Field  67
    3. Clean Data, Messy Gifts: Soap-for-Information Transactions in the Field  100
    4. Materializing Clean Data in the Field  129
    5. When Numbers Travel: The Politics of Making Evidence-Based Policy  166
    Conclusion. Anthropology in and of (Critical) Global Health  200
    Appendix. Sample Household Roster Questions  217
    Notes  223
    Bibliography  237
    Index  269
  • "This book is going to find a wide audience throughout and beyond global health and anthropology—Crystal Biruk's attention to language and metaphor makes Cooking Data eminently teachable. This is superior scholarship that is very well grounded in everyday life and the peculiar world of research. I learned a great deal." — Claire L. Wendland, author of, A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical School

    "This is not a simple revelation story in which we learn that data in research projects is socially contingent. It is a cultural study of demography research in the field, and the end product is the best we can do in anthropology—familiar things are made unfamiliar, conditional, and fragile. Crystal Biruk's work is quite simply fantastic." — Vincanne Adams, author of, Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith: New Orleans in the Wake of Katrina

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  • Description

    In Cooking Data Crystal Biruk offers an ethnographic account of research into the demographics of HIV and AIDS in Malawi to rethink the production of quantitative health data. While research practices are often understood within a clean/dirty binary, Biruk shows that data are never clean; rather, they are always “cooked” during their production and inevitably entangled with the lives of those who produce them. Examining how the relationships among fieldworkers, supervisors, respondents, and foreign demographers shape data, Biruk examines the ways in which units of information—such as survey questions and numbers written onto questionnaires by fieldworkers—acquire value as statistics that go on to shape national AIDS policy. Her approach illustrates how on-the-ground dynamics and research cultures mediate the production of global health statistics in ways that impact local economies and formulations of power and expertise.

    About The Author(s)

    Crystal Biruk is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Oberlin College.
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