General articles

The miracle workers: obstacles and opportunities for restoring sight to children in KwaZulu-Natal

Published in: Anthropology Southern Africa
Volume 37, issue 1-2, 2014 , pages: 81–93
DOI: 10.1080/23323256.2014.940193
Author(s): Susan LevineDepartment of Social Anthropology, South Africa, Lene ØverlandOrbis Africa, Kings Cross Corner, South Africa, Prasidh RamsonOrbis Africa, Kings Cross Corner, South Africa


The case studies presented in this paper reflect on the experiences of parents and the caregivers of children from the province of KwaZulu-Natal who overcame multiple obstacles to prevent childhood blindness due to cataract. Borrowing Sarah Franklin's metaphor of an “obstacle course,” the paper plots the challenges facing ordinary people as they navigate processes of diagnosis, care and treatment for children with cataract. The research, originally spearheaded by Orbis Africa, an NGO dedicated to restoring sight in children, signals a critical shift in collaborative forms of knowledge production whereby the consultant anthropologist was not merely an add-on to a development project, but acknowledged for her unanticipated and often ambiguous research findings.

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