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Global health wars: a rhetorical review of global health critique


The critique of global health is a longstanding tradition in the global health humanities (GHH). Typically, this critique takes an expected tack: critics take a slice of global health, identify its rhetoric, expose its power, and elucidate its unanticipated consequences. Here, I subject global health critique to its own approach—conducting a ‘rhetorical review’ of global health critique in order to ascertain whether it has rhetoric, power and unanticipated consequences of its own. Following this review, I find that global health critique has a rhetoric, and that this rhetoric can be organised into three types: (1) ‘global health as mere rhetoric’, (2) ‘splitting global health’, and (3) ‘figuring global health war.’ Ultimately, I argue that the rhetoric of GHH critique, like the rhetoric of global health, is a rhetoric of consequence—and a rhetoric worth revisiting.

  • literary theory
  • medical humanities
  • science communication
  • sociology
  • health policy

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