Rethinking Public Health: Merging Disability Justice with Anti-capitalism

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 15:00to16:30
Dept of Equity, Ethics and Policy, 2001 McGill College Ave, room 1140 (11th floor), Montreal, QC, H3A 1G1, CA
Pearson Lecture Promotional Flyer April 4th

Lecture: 15:00-16:30
Light cocktail will follow


One of public health’s missions remains to prevent chronic diseases, mental illness, and severe injuries, although they are all part of the human condition. This ableist view encourages discrimination, harmful stereotypes, and abuse of people with disabilities in the healthcare system as well as epistemic injustices towards their narrative and way of thinking about their different functioning. This presentation discusses the problematic relationship between public health and disability and underlines how different meanings of disability represent a significant challenge for public health. This communication aims to expose the connection between capitalism and ableism and its impact on public health. From a disability justice perspective, I will develop the notion of “capacitalism” that I coined to highlight the hidden liberal dimension of the public health system and its aims to sustain performance society norms. This concept is directly inspired by a disability justice framework and calls for implementing a disability cultural competency.

Speaker Bio:

Agnès Berthelot-Raffard is an Assistant Professor of Critical Disability Studies at the School of Health Policy and Management (York University). She holds the first Canadian academic position in Black disability studies. She develops a program of research looking at how racism and intersectional locations impact all the dimensions of health. She is currently leading one PanCanadian research on the social determinants of racialized students' mental health and equity at universities, a research funded by the Public health Agency. She is also the principal investigator of a community-based participatory project on Black women's reproductive health in the Quebec healthcare system.
As a political philosopher, her research expertise is in Feminist Philosophy, the philosophy of disability, and Black Political Thought. Dr. Berthelot-Raffard is currently at McGill as Senior Muriel Gold Visiting Professor at the Institute of Gender, Sexualities and Feminist studies. At McGill, she is working on a monograph on the interconnection between racial domination and epistemic injustices from a Black feminist perspective.


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