Remembering Global Health 
Paul Wenzel Geissler (University of Oslo)
Ruth Prince (University of Oslo)
Start time:
10 September, 2015 at 11:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Post-1980s global health engages, through architecture and landscape, mobilities and procedures, apparatus and records with its past: unacknowledged foundations, expired anticipations, unfulfilled promises. We invite anthropological investigations of memories, traces and remains of global health.

Long Abstract

Global health anthropologies often emphasise space over temporality and, if reflecting on time, evoke tropes of rupture rather than exploring continuities, memory or temporal contestation, thus reiterating global health's own framings and indeed, problem with time. Structural factors like short project cycles, ephemeral collaborative arrangements, high staff mobility, and short-term evaluations and innovative leaps, make post-1980s 'global health' remember little and selectively. Claiming mythologized achievements of earlier interventions as pedigree, its self-understanding is largely unhinged from colonial history, and even from its immediate pre-histories - recent projects, failed trials and successful interventions- which often are inaccessible or left unused in global health's urgent forward thrust. This amnesia has political implications, deflecting attention from historical legacies, and making structural changes harder to attain; it also affects global health science itself, missing out on lessons from the past, repeating previous interventions, successful or otherwise.

Yet, pasts, continuities and prehistories remain present in global health through material traces: buildings carry historical connotations; archives contain stories of abandonment; circulations of data, specimens, students and professionals leave imprints; bureaucratic and technical apparatus change slowly; terminologies persist through diverse political-economic situations; and people carry memories - more or less articulate, silenced in some situations and emphatically memorialized in others. This panel encourages its participants to revisit traces and remains of global health; to unearth older practices and visions, structures and movements, that underlie the edifice of contemporary global health - unacknowledged foundations, abandoned time capsules, expired anticipations, unfulfilled past promises for the future.

Accepted papers: