In the US, access to some kinds of healthcare expanded during a period in the 1960s - 2000s when other social welfare programs were being sharply cut. But while spending on healthcare and access to health insurance has increased, health inequity remains stubbornly entrenched - in ways that COVID has both highlighted and made far worse. The US also has extremely weak structures of community-based care, primary care, and social welfare infrastructure (from housing to income supports) that are fundamental to good health. Moreover, the provision of healthcare in the US is predicated on narratives, stereotypes, and constructions of race, gender, and disability, which dictate not only what is considered healthcare, but also, who deserves care and who is subject to community control.
Important new scholarship asks us to think about these issues together, asking how the kind of healthcare system that has grown up has systematically helped reproduce inequality and disempowerment, particularly of race-class subjugated communities. The panelists will discuss how healthcare evolved as a vehicle to manage poverty and to produce more governable and “productive” subjects within poor communities of color; examine how social constructions of race, disability, and gender dictate how our medical and legal systems interact with those subjects; and finally, ask what these lessons mean for health justice mobilizing today.
Moderated by: Karen Tani
Law and Political Economy Project