About the project

The Global Health Discourses Project is an examination of global health discourses from linguistic and medical anthropology perspectives. One goal of the project is to document and theorize the communicative practices through which global health organizations create value (monetary and otherwise). Another is contribute to global health through an emphasis on equity and social justice. This is designed to be interdisciplinary and multi-sited. The project includes collaboration and engagement with community leaders, undergraduate and graduate students, academics from the Global South, and global health professionals.

Stage one of the Global Health Discourses Project drew from fieldwork in Durban, South Africa, San Vito, Costa Rica, and Atlanta, United States of America. Research activities include (1) interviews, participant-observation, and audio-video recording of everyday activities with global health professionals; (2) the coding, analysis, and transcription of publicly available online media, websites, blogs, et cetera, associated with global health organizations; and (3) surveys with and social network analysis of global health professionals and global health organizations.

The second stage of the project will be research, funded by National Geographic, in Boruca Indigenous Territory, titled “Indigenous Knowledge, Planetary Health, and Sustainability in Costa Rica” (initial fieldwork planned for summer 2021). This project uses youth participatory action research (PAR) to document traditional toponyms (landmark names), foodways, and craft-making in the Boruca indigenous territory, Costa Rica, in order to create compelling stories that will support the growing interest in culturally-sustaining eco-tourism and planetary health in the territory. This research is intended to be both participant-observation in the field of planetary/ global health and also an effort at increasing equity in planetary/ global health research.

The final stage of the project will draw from the insights of the first and second stages to create a novel effort tentatively called “Creekside: A Planetary Health Initiative.” Creeks (small moving waterways) are a pervasive feature of many landscapes that may fall under the radar for environmental/ planetary health interventions due to their small size and inherently local character; yet this grounding in the local environment also makes creeks especially relevant for neighborhoods and communities. Following the precept of “think globally, act locally,” Creekside will start at home (for Dr. Black), in the Atlanta metropolitan area, with the goal of radiating outward if the effort is successful.