Taking Health to the Streets in Puerto Rico: Resisting Gastronomic, Psychiatric, and Diabetes Colonialism traces the ways in which diabetes, depression, and food insecurity interact under the rule of US colonization in Puerto Rico as well as the ways in which these illnesses are interlaced with contemporary culture, colonization, and politics. Central to the book, and critical to its unique creative significance and contribution, is the conceptual unification of politicized health and the embodiment of identity and social inequality in Puerto Rico. Ultimately, the advancement of health equity in Puerto Rico is a matter of decolonization, and vice versa.
Shir Lerman Ginzburg is assistant professor of public health at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University.
Part I: The Individual and the Historical
Chapter 1 Gastronomic Colonization: The Politics of Food Insecurity
Chapter 2 Melancholy and Power[lessness]: Depression in the Age of Colonization
Chapter 3 Diabetes: The Pissing Evile
Part II: The Social and the Structural
Chapter 4 Loved and Loathed: Structural Health and Politics in Puerto Rico
Chapter 5 Biological Violence
Chapter 6 Health in the Streets: Taking Action for Puerto Rico
Written from the perspective of biocultural critical medical anthropology, but adding to the powerful legacy of Sidney Mintz’s influential book Sugar and Power, Shir Lerman Ginzburg offers a moving ethnographic account of sugar colonialism, diabetes, depression, and food insecurity in Puerto Rico. Rich with the perspectives and experiences of her interlocutor participants, this insightful text is a significant contribution to the decolonization of health movement.
This is a rich ethnographic work showing in lived detail the many systemic layers that create health—from food distribution and health insurance to the larger systems of colonial relations between Puerto Rico and the United States. Shir Lerman Ginzburg illustrates how the distinct maladies of depression and diabetes are woven together by these systems, and describes how collective action can create pathways to better health through not just policy change, but political change.
Taking Health to the Streets employs a syndemic framework to link diabetes, depression, and food insecurity to the political status of Puerto Rico. Highlights of the book are the insights of a wide range of Puerto Ricans who link the personal and the political in their conversations with Shir Lerman Ginzburg about diabetes and depression. Their openness to discussing their health and situating it within the status of Puerto Rico make palpable how the social, political, and ecological challenges in Puerto Rico are making people sicker.