Divorcing ‘Global Health’ from ‘global health’: Heuristics for the future of a social organization and an idea


  • Daniel W. Krugman Brown University




global capitalism, global health, social movement, abolition, critical global health, decolonizing global health


In the rapid rise of the “decolonizing Global Health” movement, a crucial predicament has emerged. Despite the field becoming increasingly understood as white supremacist at its core and built upon historic and contemporary colonial political ordering, the kind of change being imagined and worked toward dominantly hinges on the continuation of the field—and this world’s—existence. This, I argue, is the result of over four decades of intertwining the seemingly universal, transcendently good ideal of ‘global health’ with the particularly constructed global apparatus that calls itself by that phrase, to the point where the idea and the field are now understood as inseparable. By tracing how the field that came to be known as Global Health monopolized the idea and imaginary of a healthier world, this commentary seeks to clarify what we mean when we say “global health”, and, through this, to rethink what pursuing global health and doing Global Health mean. The core of my argument rests upon establishing a simple fact, a heuristic tool, and new theoretical basis: Global Health—a social apparatus—is not global health—an ideal. By expanding what can be considered as Global Health action and foregrounding the existence and possibilities of global health pursuits beyond Global Health, I argue that what we are trying to change, how we conduct that change, and toward which horizons we move, begin to be reimagined when the myth that Global Health is global health is rejected.