Monday, February 8, 2016
1014 Tisch Hall
Public health officials have been trying to extirpate soda consumption in Mexico, currently the fattest industrial nation on earth. Not surprisingly, these officials couch their interventions towards individuals - “don't drink soda” - instead of towards larger forces like NAFTA that contributed to making soda so cheap in a place where water can’t be trusted. But what if we also thought of soda as a substance transmitting love, not only empty calories? What if we traced how sugar and dye bind people together as well as make them diabetic?
Working with environmental health epidemiologists, I’m developing an approach that integrates data collected through biological and ethnographic methods to understand how larger histories and life circumstances shape bodily conditions. What kinds of questions can we ask, and begin to answer, if blood sugar levels, NAFTA, water politics, calories, and love are all understood as real, constructed, and contingent as we try to do a better job of understanding health?