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Bending the Arc of Change: A Conversation at AAA 2017 with Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim

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June 27, 2017

Bending the Arc of Change: A Conversation at AAA 2017 with Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim

Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim, co-founders of Partners In Health, will open the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on Wednesday, November 29 in Washington, DC by reflecting on the remarkable trajectory of their organization, and what their work demonstrates about using anthropological training to make a difference in the world. A screening of the documentary film “Bending the Arc” will also be included in the AAA Annual Meeting Program.

Partners In Health (PIH) is an international non-profit organization that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Co-founded by Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, Ophelia Dahl, Todd McCormack, and Tom White, the organization now serves communities across four continents.

“The work done by Paul and Jim through Partners In Health is a perfect example of this year’s meeting theme Anthropology Matters! in action,” said AAA’s Annual Meeting Program Chair Agustin Fuentes. “There are valuable lessons about engagement and persistence embedded in the Partners In Health story that will serve as a reminder for anthropologists about the importance of taking action in the midst of this tumultuous political climate.”


Jim Yong Kim’s career has revolved around health, education, and delivering services to the poor. Kim is the 12th President of the World Bank Group. Soon after he assumed his position in July 2012, the organization established two goals to guide its work: to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity, focusing on the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries.

Before joining the World Bank Group, Kim, a physician and anthropologist, served as the President of Dartmouth College and held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. From 2003 to 2005, as director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, he led the “3 by 5” initiative, the first-ever global goal for AIDS treatment, which greatly expanded access to antiretroviral medication in developing countries.


Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people. As Chief Strategist of PIH, Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the United States and abroad have pioneered novel community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings.

Farmer holds an MD and PhD from Harvard University, where he is the Kolokotrones University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; he is also Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Additionally, Dr. Farmer serves as the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.

The AAA Annual Meeting, with more than 6,500 attendees, is the world’s largest gathering of anthropologists. The 2017 Annual Meeting, held in Washington, DC from November 29 – December 3, will feature scholarly sessions, board meetings, receptions, special events, installations, a film festival, networking opportunities, and more. Registration information can be found


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