Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Vol 9 No 3 (2022)

Anthropological Engagements with Global Health

June 1, 2021
September 23, 2022


Epidemic infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Ebola, and more recently COVID-19, have persistent and devastating impacts in human populations across the globe. In this Review essay, we consider together the monographs Epidemic Illusions (Richardson 2021) and Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds (Farmer 2020), as well as the documentary film Bending the Arc (Davidson and Kos 2017), Together, they demonstrate the history of transnational colonialism, the significance of structural violence as a contributor to global health inequity, and the increasing presence of co-occurring epidemics worldwide, topics which are often absent from discussions of global health systems. These three works discuss epidemics as pathologies of history and sociocultural patterns of colonial dispossession in global health systems; the inclusion of patient narratives in two of them, the film Bending the Arc and the book Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds, is pivotal in describing the intricacies of HIV infection and other infectious diseases, as well as the complexity of gaining control of syndemic diseases. Further, these three materials point to the importance of health education in communities and of access to healthcare by community members, and to the roles that health education and access play in health policy implementation.