"Un-Settling Epistemic Hubris: Colonial Constructions of Health in the Flexner and Lalonde Reports" (article)

Article planned for Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. Currently revising and resubmitting the piece after peer review, so check back soon!

The journal article I am drafting, which was recently reviewed at the 2021 RHM Symposium, focuses on the theme of redressing social injustice via reinvention. In this case, my journal article attends to settler colonialism as the innervating force of the many wicked problems against which rhetoricians of medicine might direct their attention, pivoting away from theories of biopower and Western biopolitics. In this decentering of Europe and pivoting away from continental philosophies of health and medicine, I nudge the field to attend to the material reality of white supremacy and cisheteropatriarchy as the structure of modern-day medicine, foregrounding white settler culpability as a generative space of interrogation for the field. Moreover, my article offers practical strategies that rhetoricians of health and medicine might adopt within healthcare settings, strategizing rhetorical interventions that disrupt epistemic hubris while prioritizing individual and community and knowledges. 

In this article, I first historicize the publication of both reports with the contemporaneous (and ongoing) colonial settlement within both the United States and Canada, contextualizing the nature of evolution and innovation regarding both biomedicine and public health. After, I provide a rhetorical analysis of both reports using an ideographic analysis that focuses on the contextually specific occurrences of colonial perpetuation. Through this analysis, I trace lingering issues of medical antagonism to the actual colonial histories of both settler empires, outlining the temporal plasticity of both medical racism and cisheteropatriarchy, which intersect to affect multiply marginalized communities. 

To conclude, I outline an anti-racist model of unsettling epistemic hubris, which rhetoricians of health and medicine might adopt within ongoing community engagement projects. Focusing on my ongoing work in community health settings, I provide an example of how unsettling epistemic hubris might reasonably—and more importantly, practically—function when working with public health officials and/or physicians.