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Editors’ Choice: #transform(the underlying systems of digital)health

Electronic health records, quantified health, and diagnostic tools are all ‘digital technologies’ that co-create meaning and knowledge throughout the medical industrial complex. The initial connection between digital humanities (DH) and medicine is an easy association to make: DH works with data, with structures of data, with big data, with various forms of tech. Medicine and health are already ‘digital,’ and create and use data and data structures in relationship to various technologies and bodies. Easily, digital humanists can investigate these formations.

We can also untangle the underlying structures of the U.S. medical industrial complex in order to create new formations founded in justice and care. This is where #transformDH is foundational to the kinds of work that can be done in these intersecting fields. As an academic guerrilla movement invested in transformative scholarship that works for social justice, accessibility, and inclusion, #transformDH’s ideals are exactly what is needed to investigate and change not only how we practice and study medicine and health, but to change the structures of power within the larger medical industrial complex.[1]

“What counts?” Fiona M Barnett asks, “…what is the effect when the conversation is not about recognizing similarity across differences or disparity in order to build a common ground, but rather, about declaring something to be unrecognizable within the confines of a field?”[2] The U.S. medical industrial complex is founded on preventing difference, on creating normative categories of health, illness, and wellness as well as normative bodies and minds. These structures create invisibility, an inability to recognize “similarity across difference or disparity.”


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