On "race" and public health: an ethnographic approach to "Black population health policy" in Salvador, Brazil
(Federal University of Bahia)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyzes the meanings attached to the concept of “race” within public health institutions in Brazil, arguing for the need to go beyond clinical contexts incorporating how this category is lived and understood in everyday life.
Paper long abstract:
This paper analyzes the meanings attached to the concept of "race" within public health institutions in Brazil. This country has seen in the past decade an increase in public policies targeted towards the so-called "Black population". These policies have proven controversial due to the multiple meanings attached to the concept of "race" in Brazil. I explore this multiciplicity through a multi-sited ethnographic account of several clinical settings, such as doctor-patient interactions, application of neonatal screening and clinical readings of complete blood-count tests, showing how the biomedical usage of "race" is interwoven with other meanings attached to this category found in other realms of social life. I argue that in order to fully understand how race-based public health policies are enacted, it is necessary to go beyond the clinical context in our ethnographies, incorporating how this category is lived and understood in everyday life.
Anthropologies in and of public health in the 21st century