Essay Public Health Challenges Hawaiian Airlines Seat Assignments
For example, he casts the epidemiologist-hero at the center of the story as a model scientist who “fearlessly follow[s] where the data lead,” juxtaposing him with other scientists whose conclusions and explanations were marred by politics (2016: 210).
As much work in Science Studies and Anthropology has shown, science is never objective, pure, or neutral; data are never fully alienated from their processes of production and are often prefigured by baked-in ways of seeing (Latour and Woolgar 1979, Epstein 1998, Daston and Galison 2007, Gitelman 2013, Halpern 2015, Biruk 2018).
As an anthropologist of science, I was struck throughout the book at how the aesthetics of “evidence” (maps, references to “data”) count as much or more than the content or quality of data themselves (Hodžić 2013).
Yet, even as Frerichs convincingly shows how the clear interests of the UN and its affiliated scientists enabled the science that most benefited its position to rise to the top despite being “,” he does, by virtue of his academic training, believe in a “pure” science that can uncover the truth.
Haiti, in this snapshot, becomes synonymous with criminality, where whiteness must be protected from blackness, clean from dirty, safety from danger (though Lasker does not analyze such optics).
Haiti has long been, in the Northern imagination, “matter out of place” (Douglas 1966) and attention to enduring histories and geographies of containment would helpfully contextualize the events and rhetoric of 2010, largely presented as a sudden and unfortunate tragedy, rather than as engineered by global forces and politics over long historical time (Button and Schuller 2016, Barrios 2017).
S.-based disaster capitalism’s uncanny ability to turn humanitarian work into highly profitable business amid the rise of new racial capitalisms furthered by carceral projects (Adams 2013, Forgie 2014, Wang 2018).As Frerichs demonstrates, the hunt for the origins of the epidemic was politicized and fraught because powerful entities—the UN and WHO—had vested interests in obscuring the fact that UN Nepalese peacekeepers, part of MINUSTAH’s (United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti) effort to preserve “law and order” and known to Haitians as “occupiers,” unwittingly carried the bacteria to Haiti.Frerichs recounts the timeline of events and knowledge production during the epidemic to frame a battle between two theories of cholera’s origin (an environmental theory vs. Frerichs’ account is at its strongest when he draws on his expertise as an epidemiologist to undertake critical readings of artifacts of knowledge that played a key role in how scientists and the public interpreted the epidemic’s events.Colonial legacies and forms of expertise about the “tropical” world have become naturalized as global health science, with implications for what and whom global health is (Meyers and Hunt 2014, Geissler et al 2016, Packard 2016), and global health has become institutionalized in Northern universities and curricula where students and faculty relish the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working in hospitals, NGOs, and research institutions in the Global South (Kenworthy, Thomas, and Crane 2018).The proliferation of clinics, research projects, and technologies across the globe has reconfigured local identities, social relations, economies, and forms of care, prompting anthropologists to take interest in global health as an object of study and critique (Biehl and Petryna 2013, Fan and Uretsky 2017).On epidemics, crises and reparations in Haiti Retired professor of epidemiology and public health Ralph R.Frerichs’ compelling (2016) tells the story of Haiti’s 2010 cholera epidemic, the worst in recent history.challenging American volunteers to Latin America to recognize “[their] inability, [their] powerlessness and [their] incapacity to do the ‘good’ which [they] intended” (1968). Frerichs’ (2016) written from the disciplinary perspectives of Epidemiology, Sociology, and Anthropology, respectively, take up Illich’s provocation, capturing the oscillating violence and care inherent in global health’s well-intentioned enactments in a vastly unequal world.The texts intersect scholarship in critical global health studies, challenging received knowledge about projects ranging from epidemic responses to global health volunteering to clinical trials and behavioral health interventions.This review essay inevitably betrays my disciplinary lens, yet I cannot emphasize enough how fruitful it was to read three texts written from different perspectives and for different audiences alongside one another.Doing so reveals how epidemiological, sociological, and anthropological tools hold different but complementary potential for deepening our understanding of global health’s intentions, actors, unintended consequences, and transactions.