Toronto Metropolitan University

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Health Humanities as an Interdisciplinary Intervention: Rhetoric, Genre, and Health Citizenship

posted on 2023-11-29, 18:29 authored by Colleen DerkatchColleen Derkatch, Philippa Spoel

[First para.]: “What can rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) contribute to a wider health humanities research agenda? In this chapter, we provide one answer to this question by drawing on our ongoing collaborative research on public discourse about “local” food and food sustainability (Derkatch & Spoel, 2017; Spoel & Derkatch, 2016, 2020). In this research, we have examined the rhetorical formation of health citizenship in materials produced by public health units and activist organizations about food production, distribution, and consumption. None of the materials we examine are explicitly “medical,” nor are they directly about health: they do not refer to diagnoses or disease, doctors or treatments, nor are they meant to guide healthcare policy or practice. The documents do not seek to reduce health-care costs or to speed up wait times. Further, while they may guide consumers toward making healthy choices, they do not explain or illustrate what health is, or how to get and maintain it. And yet, what the documents do show is that “health” is constituted rhetorically even in materials that are not directly about either medicine or health. Public discourse about local and sustainable food simultaneously enacts values about individual and community health by modeling how to be a “good” health citizen. In this chapter, we provide an account of our research on food, public health, and health citizenship to show one way that RHM widens the scope of the health humanities as an interdisciplinary field from the realm of health research and practice to a broader sphere of human life.”




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