Disparities in health across geographical space and social groups are well documented
Yet how and why these arise, and what can and should be done in response remain challenging and controversial questions. In this module, we will explore how science and technology can reveal and resist, or instead be complicit with – by obscuring, legitimating and enabling – the production of embodied inequalities. We will interrogate biomedical and social ‘ways of knowing’ patterns of risk, sickness and longevity as linked to, or as isolated from, inequalities in access to power, resources, privilege, rights, recognition and wealth. Using tools from science and technology studies as well as from critical race and queer theory, social epidemiology and medical anthropology, we will critically examine how categories such as ‘biology,’ ‘the environment,’ ‘culture,’ ‘the economy’ or ‘society’ have been used to investigate and explain differences in health. We will study examples of how biomedical research, technologies, practices and institutions have both exacerbated and depended on inequality, but also of critical and social justice responses. Topics covered might include controversies over the genetic basis of race; environmental (in)justice; medical discrimination and exploitation; feminist, queer and Black health activism; concepts of structural violence, syndemics and local biologies; and critiques of the coloniality of global health.