Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city examines how urban health and wellbeing are shaped by migration, mobility, racism, sanitation and gender. Adopting a global focus, spanning Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, the essays in this volume bring together a wide selection of voices that explore the interface between social, medical and natural sciences. This interdisciplinary approach, moving beyond traditional approaches to urban research, offers a unique perspective on today’s cities and the challenges they face. Edited by Professor Michael Keith and Dr Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos, this volume also features contributions from leading thinkers on cities in Brazil, China, South Africa and the United Kingdom. This geographic diversity is matched by the breadth of their different fields, from mental health and gendered violence to sanitation and food systems. Together, they present a complex yet connected vision of a ‘new biopolitics’ in today’s metropolis, one that requires an innovative approach to urban scholarship regardless of geography or discipline. This volume, featuring chapters from a number of renowned authors including the former deputy mayor of Rio de Janeiro Luiz Eduardo Soares, is an important resource for anyone seeking to better understand the dynamics of urban change. With its focus on the everyday realities of urban living, from health services to public transport, it contains valuable lessons for academics, policy makers and practitioners alike.
Urban transformation and public health in future cities
Michael Keith and Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos
Social scientists, data scientists, epidemiologists, zoologists and other scholars have delved into the co-variables of class, transport patterns, housing conditions, age, migration, nutrition, climate change and sanitation as well as access to health centres to determine the probability, duration and extent of disease outbreaks. Such studies have shown that the separation of the body from what surrounds it, ‘the flesh’ from ‘the stone’, is of little help if one shapes the other. With most of the world’s population now living in cities, this chapter discusses healthy living in changing metropolises. We consider in this chapter how cities may circumscribe access to health centres, the factors that determine housing choices and how these in turn may determine health outcomes. We also consider how individuals and communities may reshape cities recursively, all too often meaning that urban health is not only a study that intertwines people and space, but also does so under a temporal matrix. Historical legacies and path dependencies, migration, adaptation and change are thus conceptualised and discussed when the ethics, the access, the definitions and the transformations of public health initiatives and the demands of the twenty-first century are examined.
The availability of big data as well as life in an urban age has created expectations about the prediction and control of diseases. And yet, at the same time, cultural and gender nuances have made it necessary to reconceptualise wellbeing. In this chapter we bring together arguments presented throughout this volume about expectations and limitations when addressing health in the city. What has been demonstrated throughout this volume is that public health is a common good as much as it is an individual choice. The balance between ‘my body, my rules’ and the shared space that connects everything and everyone is one that demands constant negotiation. The trade offs and instability between the individual and communities are also a discussion of the availability of resources such as individually tailored treatments and the epidemics of city life. In this complex system of connected individuals living across different urban realities, we have contributed by concluding that medical knowledges demand a new urban imaginary: thinking experimentally about optimising public health interventions in global processes of urban transformation.