The need for historical fluency in public health law and ethics
In this seminar, Daniel S. Goldberg will discuss the importance of understanding historical patterns of domination, oppression, and subordination to tackle health and social justice; the role of law as a social determinant of health; and the significance of historical fluency in public health law and ethics.
The primary claim of this talk is that historical fluency is critical to effective scholarship and advocacy in public health law & ethics. In explaining such fluency and supporting this claim, several foundational ideas are relevant. First, law is a powerful social determinant of health. Historical analysis of population health problems connected to communicable disease, non-communicable disease, and injury helps demonstrate the deep connections between laws and health outcomes. Second, as to ethics, Powers & Faden’s health sufficiency model of social justice suggests that factors intensifying “densely-woven patterns of disadvantage” are of highest priority. Such factors are most responsible for expanding health inequities and they overwhelmingly track historical patterns of domination, oppression, and subordination. Taken together, these foundational ideas in public health law and public health ethics show why historical fluency is critical to advancing health and social justice. The final portion of the presentation will apply the analysis to a particular case study (the 1900 outbreak of bubonic plague in San Francisco, CA) to illustrate the significance of historical fluency in public health law & ethics.
Daniel S. Goldberg is an associate professor in the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He is trained in public health law, history, and public health ethics. His research and scholarship focuses on chronic disease, structural violence, stigma, and legal epidemiology. As to history, he is a 19th c. Americanist with particular interest in intellectual, legal, and policy histories as it relates to public & population health.
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