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January 20 , 2010

Ecologies and Politics of Health


Human health exists at the interface of environment and society. Decades of work by researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers has shown that health is shaped by a myriad of factors, including the biophysical environment, climate, political economy, gender, social networks, culture, and infrastructure. Yet while there is emerging interest within the natural and social sciences on the social and ecological dimensions of human disease and health, there have been few studies that address them in an integrated manner.

Ecologies and Politics of Health brings together contributions from the natural and social sciences to examine three key themes: the ecological dimensions of health and vulnerability, the socio-political dimensions of human health, and the intersections between the ecological and social dimensions of health. The thirteen case study chapters collectively present results from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the United States, Australia, and global cities. Section one interrogates the utility of several theoretical frameworks and conventions for understanding health within complex social and ecological systems. Section two concentrates upon empirically grounded and quantitative work that collectively redefines health in a more expansive way that extends beyond the absence of disease. Section three examines the role of the state and management interventions through historically rich approaches centering on both disease- and non-disease-related examples from Latin America, Eastern Africa, and the United States. Finally, Section four highlights how health vulnerabilities are differentially constructed with concomitant impacts for disease management and policy interventions.

This timely volume advances knowledge on health-environment interactions, disease vulnerabilities, global development, and political ecology. It offers theoretical and methodological contributions which will be a valuable resource for researchers and practitioners in geography, public health, biology, anthropology, sociology, and ecology.

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