Medicine and Empire

By Woolhandler, Steffie; Himmelstein, David | Monthly Review, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Medicine and Empire


Woolhandler, Steffie, Himmelstein, David, Monthly Review


Medicine and Empire Howard Waitzkin, Medicine and Public Health at the End of the Century (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2011), 256 pages, $25, paperback.

For the past three decades Howard Waitzkin has been (along with Vicente Navarro) the leading social medicine theorist in the United States. Medicine and Public Health at the End of Empire provides a superb sampling of Waitzkin's wide-ranging work, and a readily accessible introduction to the searching insights offered by a Marxist view of medicine.

Trained as both a sociologist and physician, Waitzkin's career has melded clinical involvement as a primary care doctor in oppressed communities with writing and activism, in both the United States and Latin America. He currently works with G.I. s resisting military deployment.

Much of the book is devoted to meticulous delineation of the myriad ways that globalized capitalism creates the social conditions that make us sick and puts a straightjacket on the health system's ability to respond.

In an initial chapter, Waitzkin reviews the historical role of seemingly benevolent foundations (e.g., Rockefeller) and international health organizations in smoothing the way for the imperial project. He then traces the emergence of the tradition of revolutionary social medicine from Frederick Engels through Rudolph Virchow (a nineteenth-century German physician, much-revered in the mainstream of medicine as father of modern pathology) and Salvador Allende (who was a physician before becoming Chile's first socialist president).

Engels, in his Condition oftheWorkingClass, chronicled occupational conditions such as lead poisoning, black lung, and repetitive stress injury, and he also observed that the noxious conditions in English factories sickened the surrounding communities - prefiguring much of the modern work in environmental and occupational medicine. Virchow's classic investigation of the social origins of cholera and tuberculosis epidemics was reflected in his ardent support for the uprisings of 1848. And Allende, long before emerging as a world-renowned political leader, made major contributions both as a theoretician of the social origins of ill-health and as a practical innovator when he served as Minister of Health in Chile. Waitzkin reminds us that the recent discovery of the "social determinants of health" is merely a rediscovery, generally in defanged form, of these earlier vibrant understandings.

Waitzkin brilliantly exposes the forces that pushed the development of (highly profitable) coronary care technology and assured that this unproven technology overwhelmed alternative approaches to the modern epidemic of heart disease. Indeed, Bernard Lown, who features prominently in Waitzkin's tale as a founder of the intensive care approach to heart attacks, often decries the damage wrought by the focus on medical commodities and high-tech interventions in cardiology, and the concomitant neglect of the human beings who house the hearts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Medicine and Empire
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.