Announcing: Dis/Ease, a Midwestern Newsletter
Though the catastrophic feedback loops of climate change and the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic have become unavoidable realities for everyone, we do not all experience them in the same way: people whose homes are located along the freeway or near toxic metal factories are at higher risk of developing serious respiratory illness; some streets are replete with lush green trees offering needed shade and fresh air while other streets lay bare and exposed and awash in exhaust fumes; some of us have regular access to cool lakes and fresh food, while others dwell in urban deserts where relief and nourishment are seldom easily found.
There is no shared nor common state of health for human beings, nor has there ever been, but one's health is neither random nor the result of individual factors alone: city planners, developers, politicians, and the police invest in and protect the health of some while exposing others to conditions that lead, ultimately, to sickness and death, however slowly. The city itself bears witness to this: the very existence of Minneapolis is founded on intentionally driving masses of native Dakota people first into a concentration camp and finally out of the state; the highways leveled the centers of what used to be vibrant black neighborhoods, whose residents were displaced with little support; homeless encampments that periodically move from spot to spot are not unrelated to these and other histories that resulted in large groups of people constantly exposed to dangerous and sickening environmental conditions.
The forms of care that arise to deal with the problems rooted in these processes are not opposed to the more forceful devices of the state, but are other sites where power and resistance flow. The impetus to heal a person or a population can be inscribed in or bolster a logic of strength and resistance, after which the recovered person feels empowered to take meaningful action as part of a community, but it can also function as a mechanism of control, surveillance, or coercion that serve to decontextualize the situation by isolating the pathology within the individual. The hospital, clinic, therapist's office, psychiatric ward, public health board rooms, and laboratories are not neutral spaces of healing from the struggles of the world without, but are other, peripheral, places where those very same struggles play out, i.e. political and economic spaces where the question of how to heal the person is not considered separately from the questions of whose health is worth investing in and whose condition poses a threat.
Dis/Ease is a MN-based newsletter on how practices of health, social work, medicine, and care work intersect with finance, the state, and its police. We hold that much of what has been deemed "personal" about health (the likelihood of disease, the presence of trauma, one's emotional and constitutional stability, relationship to foods or drugs) are in part determined by the racial capitalist logics that decide one's relative nearness to pollution rich environments, one's capacity to buy a home in one area or another, one's access to food or other resources, and the frequency and intensity of one's exposure to violence. All critiques of these determining factors are welcome, but we are also seeking writing about the cracks in the system and projects undertaken by those trying to establish a new relationship to health, especially those projects that see the field of health as a space for building new relationships with one another.
Accepting art, articles, report-backs, and more on the administration of care in MN and the Midwest (~200-1000 words is a good guideline, but this is flexible) until October 1st at email@example.com. Submissions are open to all (professional and non-, receiver or giver of services, expert or layperson) so long as the writing is clear and you have a critical approach.