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From contested data to controversial containment strategies, the shape and course of pandemics are influenced at every level by the question: Who matters? Whose lives are prioritized and protected? Whose expertise is made actionable, and why? Focusing on the uneven distribution of risk and care during pandemics, this course explores how global health emergencies are not states of exception, but rather events that lay bare the priorities and interests of their host societies. Our investigation into pandemics–including Black Death, cholera, “Spanish” flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and novel coronaviruses–will provide a critical entry point into understanding the social, political, and economic processes that shape health interventions and outcomes, and their divergences along lines of social difference. We will ground our discussion and analysis using key concepts in Science & Technology Studies, while drawing from critical medical anthropology, disability studies, theories of capitalism and disaster studies to enrich our conversation.
Format: seminar; Online seminar
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
Several short essays and reflection papers
None, open to all students
If overenrolled, preference will be given to first-years and sophomores
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This course takes an intersectional approach to understanding how global pandemics unfold. It will emphasize how power dynamics and social differences shape responses to, and outcomes of, health emergencies. Readings in social and critical race theory are designed to give students a deeper appreciation of these issues.
PHLH Social Determinants of Health