Virginia Tech professor to speak on health promotion, migrant activism and neoliberalism

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rebecca Hester, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, will present “Embodied politics: health promotion, migrant activism and neoliberalism” at 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the Cone University Center, Room 210.

Hester, who teaches in the Department of Science, Technology and Society, focuses her scholarship on body politics, global health, immigration and the cultural politics of health and medicine.

According to Hester, there are two predominant theoretical approaches to health and its promotion, both of which are based in activist politics.

“On the one hand, we think of health as a social justice ‘good,’ especially for vulnerable populations living in a neoliberal system that produces inequity. Given this understanding of health, pro-migrant activists want to promote it wherever and whenever we can as a means to offset health inequities and as a matter of physical survival for migrants,” said Hester. “On the other hand, critical health scholars see health as a hyper-capitalist ‘bad’ insofar as it promotes neoliberal citizenship, high individualism and market-based medicalization, especially since the 1970’s.”

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Hester completed a Ph.D. in politics with an emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The University’s Center for Professional & Applied Ethics is sponsoring this free, public event with support from the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund as part of its series on immigration.