Materiality of Phenomena

By Dominic Pfister (Department of Political Science)

As a political scientist focused on International Relations and Political Theory, and an employment background in healthcare technology, I am interested in exploring the relationship between security, a foundational concept in International Relations, and health, a concept that has become increasingly relevant in a year and a half of global pandemic. My interest is in the interconnection between security and health and, particularly, in the ways that these two concepts have been co-constitutive of one another in the modern West, as they both developed in an international environment of colonialism and racial hierarchization.  

The Worlds in Contention conference brought together a diverse set of scholars from different disciplinary, theoretical, and substantive backgrounds to present new and in-progress work on topics as varied as the logistics of maritime trade, Mexican governmental anti-obesity propaganda in the time of Covid, and the importance of gold assets to the rise of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party in Germany in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Much of the material in the conference resonated with my own work. First, there were the papers and conference presentations that I felt were directly and clearly relevant to my own work. Chief among these was the paper and presentation by Dr. Alyshia Gálvez, a cultural and medical anthropologist, on governmental public health messaging on obesity as a comorbidity with COVID in Mexico. In the presentation, Dr. Gálvez detailed efforts by the Mexican government, especially President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, to relate COVID mortality to ongoing anti-obesity efforts. Through a detailed reading of one public health booklet and an analysis of the booklets message in the context of the relationship of the Mexican government to American snack and “junk food” manufacturers.  Continue reading