What is #BeyondHealth? Our 2020-21 theme.

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Health is increasingly at the forefront of contemporary political and scholarly debates. Issues such as health care access, the impact of climate change on life-sustaining food and water systems, and the unequal distribution of morbidity and mortality across communities have emerged as era-defining challenges. The Feminist Research Institute seeks to create more impactful and justice-oriented knowledge by cultivating research collaborations across disciplines and across communities around the many challenges we face in addressing these and other health-related issues.

Following the lead of reproductive justice organizers, we’re interested in highlighting the work of researchers, practitioners, and community organizers drawing much needed attention to the devastating impacts of inequity on bodies and minds. Whether it be the alarmingly high infant mortality and maternal/carrier mortality rates among Black, Brown and immigrant communities in the United States, the disproportionate health impact of environmental pollution on poor communities and communities of color, or the lack of trans-inclusive healthcare resources, we seek to engage in and highlight work that takes novel approaches to trenchant issues of inequity in health, health research, and health care delivery.

At the same time, we are mindful of the dangers of the ever-expansive frame of health and its strategic deployment by the very systems that often perpetuate inequities. We’re interested in the work of scholars from critical disability studies, ethnic studies, transgender studies, and fat studies, among others, who have challenged health as a frame and questioned how it’s used to mark individuals and communities as unworthy, or dangerous, or undesirable, or subject to systems of state surveillance. We’re also interested in exploring critiques of the economic incentive to define more and more of our lives as health problems demanding correction via the consumption of goods and services and how health is often tethered to and defined by the capacity to perform labor.

A few of the questions animating our 2020-2021 theme include:

Whose health matters?

How do we leverage “health” in order to create more just and equitable futures?

What are the limitations or dangers of doing so?

What is health and what does it do for our imaginations to think through that framing? How does an issue become understood as a health issue? What is at stake in defining an issue as a health issue? How does framing an issue as a health issue shape who is called to the discussion, who is left out, and who is positioned as having answers?

And finally, what would it mean to think beyond health?

Our 2020-2021 “Beyond Health” theme is an invitation to the UC Davis and UC Davis Health campuses and surrounding communities to collaborate with us in working towards making lives more livable, even if that means challenging the very foundation of what we think we mean when we use the word “health."