The Future of Health

The COVID-19 pandemic is now the central concern in human affairs, recasting old problems and conditioning possibilities for the future through the prism of health. The pandemic has seemingly captured everyone and everything within its viral field, but the world churns beneath. From its onset, social differences have determined individuals’ and communities’ responses to, and experiences of, the virus. We have witnessed racial disparities in COVID-19 fatalities that have rendered high rates of death amongst African American patients as seemingly inevitable. Moreover, conversations about the biological nature of sexual difference have emerged in the construction of “risk groups” that locate cisgendered men as most endangered. At the same time, class positionality, the service economy, and the question of what constitutes “essential work” has forced a reconsideration of who is able to access measures of safety and prevention, and who is made most vulnerable. Globally, unequal access to safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 and medicines threatens to cast the pandemic forward in unstable ways.

Considering the future of health in the “post” COVID-19 world requires that we address these matters from holistic and systems perspectives, imagining not only the physical, mental, and social health of peoples and populations, but also, how these issues continue to unfold against the backdrops of climate change, environmental injustice, and living conditions that foster ill health. We must begin to address how a lack of access to universal health care and its impacts on patient survival have transformed the meanings of disability and able-bodiedness for everyone. As more and more people have come to understand themselves as imperiled by the pandemic, new practices of biological citizenship – as well as new types of biological citizens – have begun to emerge. In The Future of Health, we seek to address both the universalizing and particularizing experiences of the pandemic; the conditions that produced its uneven effects; and the future of health in the wake of a virus predicted to linger. Invited speakers and guests are asked to consider the future of health from their professional and experiential standpoints here in the United States and internationally.

 

CONTACT

Please contact Lisa Sacks (lsacks@wesleyan.edu) with questions.