Narrative, Health, and Social Justice

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This interdisciplinary and inter-institutional seminar explores the connection between narrative, health, and social justice. If disease, violence, terror, war, poverty and oppression all manifest themselves in narrative, then it is equally true that resistance, justice, healing, activism, and collectivity can be products of a narrative- based approach to ourselves and the world. Narrative understanding helps unpack the complex power relations between North and South, state and worker, disabled body and able-body, bread-earner and child-bearer, subject and researcher, patient and provider as well as self and the other. The seminar will draw from such fields as journalism, performance arts, law, public health, trauma studies, anthropology, sociology, literary studies, medicine, writing, and cultural studies. The common thread will be the narratives we tell as individuals, families, communities, and nations that situate our experience in social, political, and cultural contexts, and that express in so many ways our search for justice in our world and for our world. Our aim is to broaden the mandate of each of our disciplines, challenging each of us to bring a critical, self-reflective eye to our scholarship, teaching, practice, and organizing. How are the stories we tell manifestations of social injustice? How can we transform such stories into narratives of justice, health, and change?

Sayantani DasGupta, MD MPH
Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University, Division of General Pediatrics

Marsha Hurst, Ph.D.
Lecturer, MS in Narrative Medicine

Cameron Vanderscoff

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.




09/11/2014 Faculty House
6:00 PM
Oral History Meets Dementia: A Staged Reading of Timothy and Mary
Sam Robson,

10/09/2014 Faculty House
7:00 PM
Enwheeled: The Interdependent Identity of Wheelchair and User
Penny Wolfson,

Notes: There is an optional dinner prior to the seminar at a cost of $25
11/06/2014 Common Room, Heyman Center, Columbia University
4:00 PM
Life Outsourced: Globalization and Transnational Surrogacy in India
Shamita Das Dasgupta, Manavi/NYU

Sayantani DasGupta, Columbia (Clinical Pediatrics/Narrative Medicine)

Vaishali Sinha, Filmmaker

Notes: There is an optional dinner immediately after the seminar at Faculty House
12/11/2014 Faculty House
7:00 PM
[Re] Narrating Ebola: Contagion, Race Panic, and Boundaries Breached

Notes: An optional dinner will be held at Faculty House at 6:15, $25. Please email for more information.