Political Ecologies of Health and Disease

As an array of infectious diseases have re-emerged or been found outside of their place of origin, talk of global pandemics has appeared in the pages of newspapers and academic journals alike. Chronic health conditions have also become more prevalent, impacting increasing numbers of people across the globe. While natural scientists and health professionals recognize that changes to the environment–from global warming to sub- and ex-urbanization–impact human health, they tend to present such changes as apolitical and ahistorical phenomenon. Seeking to explicitly recognize the politics and economics underpinning environmental change, political ecologists have long recognized how social processes create landscapes of disease that can disproportionately impact certain segments of society (Jackson and Neely 2014; King 2010; Mayer 2000). This session seeks to bring together political ecologists examining health and disease through innovative theoretical and empirical lenses. Drawing on recent scholarship, papers might address the following topics.


–Political ecology and cumulative and differential vulnerabilities (see Ferring and Hausermann 2019; Neely 2013)

–New urban, suburban, and exurban spaces of disease (see Ali and Keil 2011)

–Perceptions and narratives in the political ecology of disease (see Connolly, Kostila, and D’Alisa 2017)

–Dispossession and disease (see Perreault 2012)

–Finance, financialization, and disease (see Wallace et al 2018)

–Structural One Health, ecosocial theory, socioecological systems of disease (see Wallace et al 2015; McMichael 1999; Krieger 1994)


Papers that address political ecologies of health and disease from any facet across space and time are welcome. Applicants are invited to send paper abstracts of no more than 300 words to bzkaup@wm.edu by November 29, 2019. Selected applicants will be notified by November 30 and must register with DOPE 2020 (https://www.politicalecology.org) by December 1, 2019 in order to participate.


Works Cited:

Ali, S. Harris and Roger Keil. 2011. Networked Disease: Emerging Infections in the Global City. John Wiley & Sons.

Connolly, Creighton, Panagiota Kotsila, and Giacomo D’Alisa. 2017. “Tracing Narratives and Perceptions in the Political Ecologies of Health and Disease.” Journal of Political Ecology 24(1):1–10.

Ferring, David and Heidi Hausermann. 2019. “The Political Ecology of Landscape Change, Malaria, and Cumulative Vulnerability in Central Ghana’s Gold Mining Country.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 109(4):1074–91.

Jackson, Paul and Abigail H. Neely. 2015. “Triangulating Health: Toward a Practice of a Political Ecology of Health.” Progress in Human Geography 39(1):47–64.

King, Brian. 2010. “Political Ecologies of Health.” Progress in Human Geography 34(1):38–55.

Krieger, Nancy. 2001. “Theories for Social Epidemiology in the 21st Century: An Ecosocial Perspective.” International Journal of Epidemiology 30(4):668–77.

McMichael, Anthony J., Bert Bolin, Robert Costanza, Gretchen C. Daily, Carl Folke, Kerstin Lindahl-Kiessling, Elisabet Lindgren, and Bo Niklasson. 1999. “Globalization and the Sustainability of Human Health An Ecological Perspective.” BioScience 49(3):205–10.

Neely, Abigail H. 2015. “Internal Ecologies and the Limits of Local Biologies: A Political Ecology of Tuberculosis in the Time of AIDS.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105(4):791–805.

Perreault, Tom. 2013. “Dispossession by Accumulation? Mining, Water and the Nature of Enclosure on the Bolivian Altiplano.” Antipode 45(5):1050–69.

Wallace, Robert G., Luke Bergmann, Richard Kock, Marius Gilbert, Lenny Hogerwerf, Rodrick Wallace, and Mollie Holmberg. 2015. “The Dawn of Structural One Health: A New Science Tracking Disease Emergence along Circuits of Capital.” Social Science & Medicine 129:68–77.

Wallace, Rodrick, Luis Fernando Chaves, Luke R. Bergmann, Constância Ayres, Lenny Hogerwerf, Richard Kock, and Robert G. Wallace. 2018. Clear-Cutting Disease Control: Capital-Led Deforestation, Public Health Austerity, and Vector-Borne Infection. Springer.

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