Accessing Health?des,inequal,pol Of Place

ANT4600 Accessing Health? Design, Inequality and the Politics of Place

4 Advanced Liberal Arts Credits

Health outcomes vary widely across the globe: there is a gap of more than 30 years in the life expectancies of the longest-lived and shortest-lived countries. Yet decades' and in some cases centuries' worth of projects to improve health outcomes have faltered. Why, amidst a plethora of potential solutions, do poor health and health inequality persist?

This course investigates the relationship between human health, the places where we live, and the management of health through design and planning. Illness is both a justification for the exercise of power and a consequence of the inequalities that power leaves in its wake. This creates an apparent paradox where expert technologies of biomedicine and planning seem to offer the promise of better lives but also re-inscribe illness in already unhealthy populations. We will examine the fragmented conceptions of the body, community, health, and place that both make these efforts possible and make them unlikely to succeed in achieving health equality.

The course explores the interaction between public health and planning norms and the everyday lives of people on the margin of these projects. We will pay particular attention to questions regarding how race, gender, and disability shape both health and experiences of place in the global South and North. After an overview of the humanistic social sciences' approaches to the relationship between health and place in weeks 1-2, the readings in the first half of the course are organized around top-down projects to create healthier populations and the everyday strategies of resistance that people who find themselves caught up in these projects employ. The readings in the second half of the course explore people's bottom-up efforts to forge a different relationship between place and health, with particular attention to the politics of design.

In this course, students will complete a two-part research project that explores how differently situated social groups seek to change places and their people in pursuit of health. In part one, you will draw on theories explored in this course to examine a "top-down" approach to the production of health. For instance, you might look at a particular city's urban planning policies, the work of a transnational NGO, the management of a forest, or an anti-Zika campaign. In part two, you will explore a "bottom-up" approach to health by documenting people's every day and grassroots practices for keeping or making themselves healthy. This could include but is not limited to guerrilla urbanism, disability activism, techniques of visibility/invisibility as everyday resistance, Black place-making, or food justice. You are not required to locate both parts of the project in the same place, nor are you required to organize both parts of the project around the same health problem. This project is an opportunity for you to explore a topic in which you are genuinely interested-so please let me know if you are feeling like you need some encouragement to choose the "riskier" option.

Prerequisites: Any combination of 2 intermediate liberal arts (HSS, CSP, LTA)

  • Program: Undergraduate
  • Division: History and Society
  • Level: Advanced Liberal Arts 4600 Requirement (UGrad),Advanced Elective (UGrad),Advanced Liberal Arts (UGrad)
  • Course Number: ANT4600
  • Number of Credits: 4