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Global health wars: a rhetorical review of global health critique
  1. Raquel Baldwinson1,2
  1. 1English, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2History of Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Raquel Baldwinson, History of Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; baldwinson{at}


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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Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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  • Contributors I am the sole author of this article.

  • Funding Portions of this research were generously funded by the Friedman Award for Scholars in Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.