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Global Health Humanities in transition
  1. Narin Hassan1,
  2. Jessica Howell2
  1. 1LMC, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2English, Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jessica Howell, English, Texas A&M University System, College Station, TX 77840, USA; jmhowell{at}

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This special issue on the Global Health Humanities originally was conceptualised before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and then grew into fruition during the height of a global health crisis. As co-editors, we agreed that the advent of the pandemic necessitated a critical re-evaluation of the basic tenets of Global Health Humanities as a developing field. The project has been shaped during a moment in which daily news and information around issues of health, contagion and global interconnectedness have asked us to shift and rethink the very questions that need to be posed. Therefore, the issue not only seeks to represent the diverse disciplinary, methodological and theoretical approaches of the Global Health Humanities, but also to model scholarship during a time of transition. We revised cluster topics midstream to accommodate a new group of essays on COVID-19. Even within essays from different thematic clusters, authors who mentioned COVID-19 as a relevant context to their work were encouraged to critically engage with their own positionality in relation to the pandemic.

These editorial changes are not only organisational in nature, but also reflect both editors’ training in the humanities. One tenet within humanities scholarship is that forms of human knowledge are not ‘found’ but created. In Psychiatric Power, philosopher Michel Foucault explains his concept of the archaeology of knowledge in relationship to scientific discovery: he asserts, ‘the supposedly universal subject of knowledge is really only an individual historically qualified according to certain modalities’, and ‘the discovery of truth is really a certain modality of the production of truth’ (Foucault 2008, 238). What is the relevance of these claims to Global Health Humanities scholarship, especially during a pandemic? After all, since late 2019, we have all observed emerging scientific knowledge that deeply impacts our individual lives. Does Foucault’s work suggest that scientific discoveries regarding …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.