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Public Lecture Sean Brotherton

Posted by C3W Admin on May 18 2023

Humanitarianism, Otherwise: Cuban (Health)Care as Political Praxis.

P. Sean Brotherton, Ph.D.

Professor of Anthropology

New York University

Join us for a Public Lecture, with the opportunity to ask questions, followed by a drinks reception at the Simon Bolivar Saal, Potsdamer Strasse, Berlin on the 14th June. For registration head to our Eventbrite page.


Under the umbrella of solidarity missions, since the early 1960s, Cuba’s socialist government has dispatched tens of thousands of medical brigades to geographically diverse locales. This approach to humanitarian medical aid, the Cuban government contends, is an act of solidarity grounded in an ethos of social justice. The magnitude of this brand of humanitarianism, in scope, depth, and breadth, far outpaces the most iconic faces of the contemporary global health industry, such as Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross and UNICEF. One would think Cuba plays a pivotal role in shaping the core principles and philosophies of the global health industry. Yet, despite these important if not ground breaking roles in primary healthcare, for most readers in North America and Europe, Cuba likely occupies the rhetorical and discursive space of the singular “case study” or “alternative,” if it even makes an appearance. How do we make sense of the absent presence of Cuba’s medical-internationalism efforts as a non-event in the global health landscape? This talk, written as an exercise in speculative thinking, explores the structuring logics shaping global health’s dominant script—the problematics, concepts, methods, and practices—that render different imaginaries of care and aid illegible, thus unthinkable.

Connecting Three Worlds event funded by the Wellcome Trust

P. Sean Brotherton is Professor of Anthropology at New York University. He holds a Ph.D. from McGill University, an M.A. from York University, and an HBSc. from the University of Toronto.

Brotherton studies and theorizes health, medicine, the state, subjectivity, and psychoanalysis. His research intervenes in debates of medical anthropology, the anthropology of the body, and Latin American and Caribbean studies. He is the author of Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba, by Duke UP. His newest book, also with Duke UP, Global Health, Otherwise: Cuba and the Politics of Humanitarianism, is in production. He has another project underway, Armed Against Unhappiness: Psychoanalytic Grammars in Buenos Aires, which explores how diverse psychoanalytic communities in Buenos Aires have produced distinctive grammars that influence how individuals articulate ideas about health and well-being.

Before joining NYU, Brotherton was an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the College at the University of Chicago and an Associate Professor at Yale University. In the fall of 2022, he will begin his term as the President-Elect of the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA), a section within the American Anthropological Association (AAA).


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