Decolonizing Global Health Seminar Series
Please join the Science, Technology and International Affairs Program (STIA) and the Center for Global Health Science and Security (GHSS) for a new seminar series on Decolonizing Global Health. This series is offered in conjunction with a new 1-credit course in the STIA program, STIA 408, led by Professors Claire Standley and Emily Mendenhall. The talks take place on select Thursdays at 2pm and are open to the Georgetown community.
The concept of “decolonialization” of academic curricula and research partnerships has gained momentum in recent years, stemming from frustrations at the implicit and explicit ways in which Western cultural, political, and educational hegemony pervade virtually all disciplines. In global health, false narratives of objectivity, universality, and apolitical interests cloud the realities of historical roots in European and North American colonial endeavors.
Want to learn more? Georgetown students can RSVP here to join the Zoom room for individual lectures – please see the links below. Those students who succesfully RSVP for the event will receive a google calendar invite with the Zoom meeting link.
Not a Georgetown student? You can watch the sessions streamed live over YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/c/DecolonizingGlobalHealth and submit questions in the comments!
**Please note that registration for any of the individual seminars indicates your consent to have your video and audio live streamed to the “Decolonizing Global Health” YouTube channel, as well as recorded for later public posting.
August 26 – Global Health Research Needs a Makeover
Professor Madhukar Pai, Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health, McGill University & Director, McGill International TB Centre
September 7* – The Colonial Legacy: Re-thinking Health Equity in the Global South
Dr. Maria Amelia Viteri (University of Maryland, USA & Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador)
*Note that this session occurs on a Monday
September 17 – Global health, Development, and Colonialism
September 24 – Indigenous knowledge in public health
Dr. Eli Nelson (Williams College, USA)
Assistant Professor, American Studies and Science and Technology Studies Programs
Medicine has an especially capacious definition in Indigenous contexts, touching on topics and relationships in the realms of religion, governance, diplomacy, environmental sciences, and more. Indigenous doctors and public health authorities have long argued that decolonizing or reforming public health requires a holistic approach that can be incommensurable with settler and other colonial modes of risk assessment, care, and future planning. In this lecture, I will provide a broad historical and contemporary view of Indigenous medicine and public health on Turtle Island, focusing on the roles it has played in Indigenous assertions of sovereignty, land, spirit, and futurity. We will start with a review of how Indigenous medicine and knowledge was deployed in epidemics in the 17th century, followed by reservation medicine during the Red Progressive era, Indigenous feminist public health movements in the 20th century, and concluding with a note on how Native science and medicine produces community care and protection amidst climate change and Covid-19 crises.
October 1 – Health equity and reform (12:15 – 2:15 pm)
Dr. Devaki Nambiar (The George Institute for Global Health, India)
Program Head, Health Systems and Equity
Taking its cue from Prof Pai’s magisterial tour of the contradictions of ‘the decolonization of global health,’ as well as Kothari and Cooke’s seminal work (Participation; the New Tyranny?, 2001), this lecture presents reflections on being (labeled as) someone who lives and works ‘locally,’ in a Low and Middle Income country. I present four tyrannies – of language, concepts, partnership, and representation – to reflect on how global contradictions are reified at local levels in the global South, creating ever more vexatious hypocrisies. I end with some thoughts on how we may reconcile or live with the hypocrisies inherent in public health research and practice today.
October 8 – Beyond tokenism: How do we stop Global Health Institutions from Perpetuating Global Health Inequities?
Dr. Ngozi Erondu (Chatham House, UK & Project Zambezi, Zimbabwe)
Speaker Bio: Ngozi Erondu PhD, MPH is trained as an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and health system policy and global health governance. She also runs the social enterprise the public-private partnership, Project Zambezi, a novel tech-enabled logistics approach to improve access to essential medicines throughout sub-Sahara Africa. She is also an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House. Dr Erondu was an Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she taught disease outbreak response and epidemiology and was a Senior Public Health Advisor at Public Health England. She often provides technical support to the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organisation, the Nigeria CDC, the US CDC, and other governments across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Her support is aimed at strengthening institutional capacity to control infectious diseases such as Covid19, Ebola, meningitis, malaria, and poliomyelitis. She is a Trustee at two UK Charities: Imperial Health Charity and Castlepines Medical Foundation and is a Fellow with the Aspen Institute and the John Hopkins University Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Programme.
October 15 – Effecting change in academia / Colonial legacies in mental health
Dr. Anouska Bhattacharyya (YW Boston, USA)
Abstract: In academia, “global” often connotes democratized knowledge, access to resources, and collective action, but closer inspection reveals an industrial-capitalist hegemony and flattening of the local. Whether the classroom, the laboratory, the field site or the discipline, notions of ‘global’ go hand-in-hand with colonial systems of value and merit. Decolonization is necessary to include more voices and develop sustainable systems of knowledge and equity. Examination of one arbiter of knowledge and rationality, the mind sciences, reveals patterns of colonial power that we can target. In this lecture, we will review the colonial origins of psychiatry, the codification of its Bible (the DSM), and its sovereignty over our current understandings of normal/abnormal, us/them, worthy/not. In universities, many decolonization efforts are centered on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). While often incomplete, sustainable DEI efforts offering systemic change can decolonize both the academy and psychiatry. We will not have healthy people and healthy institutions without reconsidering the colonial systems we have inherited and recentering our knowledge creation and dissemination on abolitionist practice through effective DEI.
Speaker Bio: Anouska is deeply invested in issues of race, gender and equity in higher education and healthcare. Anouska was the director of Harvard’s international program, managing incoming students’ immigration status, funding and curriculum development against a backdrop of increasing state violence and xenophobia. She assisted in the overhaul of the university’s core curriculum, and organized faculty protests at the decision to end DACA in 2017. She brings over a decade of expertise in higher education to YW.
Prior to YW Boston, Anouska was heavily involved in the University of Pennsylvania’s MSTP: a program designed to diversify the physician-scientist community in Philadelphia and beyond. She is an award-winning teacher at Harvard, Northeastern and MIT. Anouska received her Ph.D. in history of science from Harvard University in 2013 as a result of her research examining the genealogy of mental health in the British Empire, specifically what it means to be simultaneously colonized by the state and by medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree in natural sciences, and an M.Phil. in history of science, medicine and technology, both from Cambridge University, UK.
Week of October 19: Capstone Panel (Date/Time TBD)