Global Health in the Time of Violence

Short Seminar

October 5–6, 2006

Global Health in the Time of ViolenceGlobal Health in the Time of ViolenceFirst row, from left: Carolyn Nordstrom, Merrill Singer, Barbara Rylko-Bauer, H. Kris Heggenhougen, Philippe Bourgois; second row, from left: Linda Whiteford, James Quesada, Paul FarmerGlobal Health in the Time of ViolenceFirst row, from left: Carolyn Nordstrom, Merrill Singer, Barbara Rylko-Bauer, H. Kris Heggenhougen, Philippe Bourgois; second row, from left: Linda Whiteford, James Quesada, Paul Farmer

Over two days in October 2006, a group of medical anthropologists meeting at SAR discussed meanings of global health, manifestations of violence, and the ways health is affected by violence. “We addressed global forces, many of them shaped by neoliberal policies that create conditions of profound inequity, which in turn foster and sustain violence—whether physical, political, symbolic, or the structural violence of poverty, racism, and other forms of injustice and inequality,” reported organizers Barbara Rylko-Bauer, Linda Whiteford, and Paul Farmer, the 2006 J. I. Staley Prize winner. The group noted that although health and health care are clearly affected by violence, “equally significant was the way health opened a political humanitarian space for diagnosing, analyzing, and intervening in situations of violence.” Participants viewed the normalizing of violence as directly linked to the erosion and even absence of human rights in many parts of the world. In contrast, health care offers a means of mobilizing people and communities around solidarity and social movements. “We saw health and health care as spaces for hope, and we saw global health not just as a desired outcome but as a social value,” said the organizers.

As part of the ongoing collaboration between SAR and the Society for Applied Anthropology, the group met again in March 2007 at the plenary session of the annual SfAA meeting in Tampa, Florida— a session attended by an overflow crowd of more than 400—and is working toward an edited volume for SAR Press. “The most important message we would like to relay through these writings is that the status quo is not normal and unchangeable,” said the organizers. “It is possible to unravel reasons for violence, injustice, and suffering, no matter how complex the situation may seem. The way things are is not the way they need to be.”

Paul Farmer, Chair The Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Social Medicine, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Barbara Rylko-Bauer, Chair Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University
Linda M. Whiteford, Chair Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida
Philippe Bourgois
H. K. Heggenhougen
Carolyn Nordstrom
James Quesada
Merrill Singer

Sponsored by Dobkin Family Foundation

Follow us: