For this installment of Top of the Heap, I was delighted to work with Assistant Professor Adia Benton from Northwestern University.
I think it’s probably common for people to talk about how large their book heap is. Mine is no different. I’m at the end of my sabbatical and the beginning of my maternity leave. The former should have left me ample time to read, the latter… not so much. I am juggling a couple of book projects right now, so the books I have at the top of the pile reflect those interests and the ideas spinning off from them. The ones that continue to rise to the top are On Being Included, by Sara Ahmed. The book is about diversity initiatives in a university setting. In addition to being a useful account of these efforts at a time when these conversations are taking place in academia, I see this book as potentially offering lessons about how institutions “think”, how they issue documents and propose non-solutions to those problems. Expected Miracles, by Joan Cassell, is an older book. It’s still relevant in that it describes the culture of surgery in US hospitals and many of its insights still ring true for the surgeons I know. Habeas Viscus, by Alexander Weheliye, is a slim and dense book that provides a much needed corrective to accounts of biopolitics and bare life that are insufficiently attentive to race.
I’m almost done with Randy Packard’s A History of Global Health. Packard lays out a straightforward account of why, at different points in time, international health and colonial public health largely focused on disease-specific programs, rather than on the social determinants of health.