Public Humanities Initiative

Care for the Polis: Cities, Health, and the Humanities - Virtual Format

Friday, May 1, 2020 - Saturday, May 2, 2020 The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Free and open to the public

First come, first seated

Moving to Virtual Format: Details coming soon

Urban environments and infrastructures play crucial roles in defining and mediating health and care. From the effects of metropolitan experience on mental health to the medical apartheids construed through urban segregation, from the healing or toxic powers of high-rise building and high density living to the racialized and gendered networks of care, health is as much a problem of the polis as the city is a category of modern medical history. Meanwhile, urgencies and policies of contagion raise the stakes of contemporary conditions of city living at a global scale. The on-going crises of public health and urban inequality only put further pressure on the ways in which architectural and urban design inform the economics, sciences, politics, and public experiences of health. 

Hosted under the joint auspices of the Explorations in the Medical Humanities and the Public Humanities Initiative at the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities together with the Center for Science and Society, this two-day event brings scholars, curators, and caregivers from across the humanities, medicine, and New York City to share their research on the intersections of health, policy, publics, and the built environment.

Friday, May 1st 2020
9:00am - 6:00pm
Free and open to the public
Program Details TBC


Graham Mooney, Associate Professor in the History of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University)
Leslie Topp, Professor of Architectural History (Birkbeck University)
Patrick Blanchfield, Associate Faculty Member (Brooklyn Institute for Social Research)
Amy Chazkel, Bernard Hirschhorn Associate Professor of Urban Studies (Columbia University)
Meredith TenHoor, Associate Professor of Undergraduate Architecture (Pratt Institute)
Camille Robcis, Associate Professor of History and French (Columbia University)
Chisomo Kalinga, Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Fellow (University of Edinburgh)
Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences (Columbia Mailman School of Public Health)
Alexandre White, Assistant Professor of Sociology and History of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University)
Jonathan Metzl, Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry (Vanderbilt University)
Rebecca Jacobs, Trust Mental Health Curatorial Research Fellow (Wellcome)

Organized by Arden Hegele and María González Pendás


Saturday, May 2nd, 2020
Knowing and Making: Immigrant Women from the Global South
10:30am – 2:00pm
Open to the public, registration required.

A number of seats will be held for Columbia undergraduate and graduate students.

These workshops will provide a public and civic justice dimension to issues of caregiving in the global city. The event raises questions of race, gender, migration, history and memory through the lens of the foods, crafts, clothing, and other knowledge brought by immigrant women living and thriving in New York City. The Knowing and Making event will feature sharing of life histories, craft narratives of learning, caring, and generational transmission, and demonstrations from women who have emigrated to the United States from the Global South and are still engaged in craft-based knowledge and making from their homelands: an embroiderer from Bengal, a Palestinian chef, a Puerto Rican lace-maker, a bazin clothing designer and seamstress from the Sahel coast. Select demonstrations will be followed by a panel Q & A in which we will discuss issues around the production and dissemination of crafts and knowledge in a global city, of relocated (or dislocated) life courses, informal labor and care practices, and the ethics and aesthetics of making.  

Participants TBC

Organized by the Center for Science and Society


By Semester