Behind the Measures of Maternal & Reproductive Health

A Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine, co-edited with Siri Suh

Ontologies of intervention in global health involve a voracious appetite for data – collection of data as evidence of what is intervention is needed, the establishment of metrics to organize and make sense of that data, further surveillance and measures to determine whether interventions were successful and targets were met, and, increasingly, predictions that determine whether interventions will provide good returns on investments. This part-special issue, an ethnographic interrogation of contemporary metrics and ontologies of intervention enacted in the global South, investigates “behind the measures” of maternal and reproductive health: the imperfect but pragmatic processes of quantification, inventory, and recording; how metrics are imbued with meaning, morality, and power; and how targets and indicators shape or drive individual and institutional behavior, as well as policy and program creation.