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Between nation and empire: how the state matters in global health

Harrington, John ORCID: 2023. Between nation and empire: how the state matters in global health. Legal Studies 43 (3) , pp. 461-479. 10.1017/lst.2022.48

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The role of the state has been underplayed in scholarship on global health. Taking a historical view, this paper argues that state institutions, practices and ideologies have in fact been crucial to the realization of contemporary global health governance and to its predecessor regimes. Drawing on state theory, work on governmentality, and Third World Approaches to International Law, it traces the origins of the ‘health state’ in late colonial developmentalism, which held out the prospect of conditional independence for the subjects of European empires. Progress in health was also a key goal for nationalist governments in the global south, one which they sought to realize autonomously as part of a New International Economic Order. The defeat of that challenge to the dominance of the global north in the 1980s led to the rise of ‘global governance’ in health. Far from rendering the state redundant, the latter was realized through the co-option and disciplining of institutions at national level. To that extent, the current order has an unmistakably imperial character, one which undercuts its declared cosmopolitan aspirations, as evidenced in the approach to vaccine distribution and travel bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Cardiff Law & Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords: Global Health Governance; Nationalism; Imperialism; States; COVID-19
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1748-121X
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 November 2022
Date of Acceptance: 28 November 2022
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 21:45

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