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Interview with Havi Carel

On 19 March 2020, a video recorded by 39-year-old Tara Jane Langston from an intensive care bed in London’s Hillingdon Hospital went viral. Visibly breathless, she urged her colleagues – for whom the message was originally intended – to put down the cigarettes and not to take any chances with Covid-19 – which, at that time, had killed 144 people in the UK. ‘I’m telling you now’ she warned, ‘you need your fucking lungs.’

 

Langston’s testimony was powerful. The footage conveyed a rawness that had, at that time, been exclusive to foreign news dispatches. Though much was made of Langston’s status as a healthy, gym-going mother of two, the directness with which she called out the public’s complacency was striking. It also proved prescient to the UK’s own imminent spiral, demonstrating the (at times voyeuristic) need from the general population for subjective accounts of the experience of others in order for threat to be comprehended.

 

With Covid-19, we exist in a world of experience which is, to a certain extent, prior to science. We are often left attempting to understand this new life condition through the prism of emotion, as opposed to verified information.

 

To situate these impulses we might turn towards philosopher Havi Carel’s phenomenology. Carel is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, where she also teaches Medical Humanities. Her research is a mixture of cross-disciplinary activism and applied continental philosophy, which regularly draws on evidence from physicians, psychologists, and bioethicists. Her most notable work to date is a 2016 monograph, Phenomenology of Illness, which uses Edmund Husserl’s existential phenomenology to refocus the study of illness and medical treatment onto patients, placing emphasis on embodied subjectivity. She uses the distinctions between the ‘objective body’ and the ‘body as lived’ – provided by Jean-Paul Sartre – to map her own distinction between disease and illness: ‘The objective body is the physical body, the object of medicine: it is what becomes diseased. The body as lived is the first-person experience of this objective body, the body as experienced by the person whose body it is. And it is on this level that illness, as opposed to disease, appears.’

 

Phenomenology of Illness is compelling not only in its foregrounding of human experience, but also in the way Carel documents her own illness. In 2006, she was diagnosed with lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung disease which leads to respiratory failure. ‘My future has folded in on itself,’ she wrote in an essay the following year.

 

Most recently, Carel co-led Life of Breath, a five-year research project investigating breathlessness across medical settings, literature, history, public policy, and philosophy. We speak over the phone in mid-May. I’m in east London, watching from my window as empty train carriages crawl towards the City; Carel is at home in Bristol, where she’s shielding, homeschooling, and marking undergraduate essays.

 

Q

The White Review

— Your work focuses a lot on the lived experience of illness, but many of the discourses around illness and disease that we’re witnessing at the moment are highly institutionalised. How can a phenomenological approach respond to that?

A

Havi Carel

—  The pandemic was very much seen as some external intrusion; a surprise; something that shouldn’t have happened. But, in fact, illness is a universal feature of human life. And that bodily vulnerability we all share is difficult for people to accept. Phenomenology can help us explore this insight and how it relates to our everyday lives.

 

The recent focus on older people is important, but it hasn’t been properly theorised. The idea that ageing and illness are associated can lead, for example, to thinking that illness is something to be expected and accepted as you grow older. But that kind of approach isn’t particularly useful, because no matter how old or ill people are, we should still look for ways to help them; support them; enhance their quality of life; improve their wellbeing. So I think this acceptance that Covid-19 affects and kills older people disproportionately is something we should be questioning and criticising. 

 

A third point is the ubiquity of illness. Even though we shouldn’t accept the hardship and suffering illness imposes on us, we should acknowledge illness as something that is very much a part of being a physiological organism. The shock or anger people feel when they fall ill is only one possible response. Illness can actually invite you to be more reflective. It can be an opportunity for people to think about why they’ve lived as they have, or what they’ve done with their life, or how they’ve so far thought about their bodies. So there’s a real need to question the attitudes we have towards illness, beyond the pandemic. Illness is something we should be better equipped to cope with, and something we should anticipate we’ll come into contact with. Human life is very much lived under the conditions of our embodied vulnerability; our susceptibility to affliction; and our dependence on other people. 

 

I first came across these ideas in Alasdair MacIntyre’s 1999 collection of lectures, Dependent Rational Animals. The view he develops there is really insightful in the current context. Instead of saying: ‘How could this have happened?’ and ‘All we want is just to go back to how it was before’, we can say: ‘Well, we’re organisms and we’re susceptible to viruses’. We move around the world so much. We come close to other people. The condition of being human and living as we do. So this pandemic is something we ought to have budgeted for, anticipated, and seen as a component in our way of life, rather than as an entirely alien event. 

Q

The White Review

—  In your work, you make the distinction between illness and disease. How can we understand these terms in the context of the pandemic, when medical information is naturally privileged over subjective experience and testimony?

A

Havi Carel

—  I use the term ‘disease’ to refer to the physiological process that happens to the physical body, in this case, the process instigated by infection by the Covid-19 virus. ‘Illness’ refers to the experience of that disease: how the physiological process is lived by the person who is ill and those who care for them. In the case of the pandemic, it might be family members who can’t even see their loved ones. That’s a profoundly important distinction to have when there is a strong focus on numbers; on statistics; on rates of transmission. The numbers are useful for people to be able to contextualise risk, but they are not a replacement for the understanding that death and life are something completely individual, and every life lost – even if it’s of a very elderly person – is still a profound loss. 

 

There have been a lot of fascinating accounts on the news and online that included testimonials – not just of people who were sick or recovering from Covid-19, but also of health professionals who were looking after them. I think it is very important to share the reality of what it means for an individual to be lying in a bed in ICU. For health professionals to be doing this work. The power of those testimonials lies in their being in the public domain, as an antidote to the numbers game. Faced with this quantified way of talking about the pandemic, it’s very easy to lose sight of the individual person. There’s a risk that we’ll say: ‘Oh, 286 deaths – that’s brilliant, because only a few weeks ago we had 700 or 800 deaths a day.’ But the magnitude of the catastrophe and how much hardship and devastation it’s caused – that’s something that has to keep on being reiterated.

Q

The White Review

— In your book Phenomenology of Illness, you use S. Kay Toombs’s conception of the Five Features of Illness: loss of wholeness; loss of certainty; loss of control; loss of freedom to act; loss of the familiar world. Do you think this framework can suitably describe the kind of mass event we’re witnessing? Or are these losses too specialised and tied to our pre-pandemic understanding?

A

Havi Carel

—  I think undoubtedly when you’re ill with Covid-19 you experience all of these losses. What Toombs is trying to express is that your entire lifeworld is changed by illness. Your whole way of Being-in-the-world is altered; your mode of interacting with other people, how you navigate the environment, how you feel about yourself and your body, about time. Whatever the particular features of a particular kind of disease – whether it affects your legs or your arms; your pancreas or your metabolism – Toombs says: these specific features are not of major philosophical interest. What is philosophically important is that all illness experiences are characterised by these same losses. Clearly Covid-19 is no exception. 

Q

The White Review

— You also explore how the pathways of illness can be difficult for patients, from recognising symptoms, through to diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. These were already unstable categories, and Covid-19 problematises them further still. How do you begin to think about general disruption outside of these illness-specific scenarios?

A

Havi Carel

—  The pathways of illness can be seen more broadly. Covid-19 affects not only patients, but also people who are not sick. We’ve undergone an experience of global uncertainty. It’s global firstly in the sense that it’s happening throughout the world. And it’s also global in the sense that nearly every aspect of our lives has been transformed. Our ideas about safe distance from others; intimacy; our ability to be with other people; our understanding of public spaces. There’s a very high level of suspicion that characterises life under the pandemic. And in that respect it can be interesting to look back on all the things we took for granted only a few months ago. That you could go, anxiety free, to a café; that you could board an aeroplane; that you could go to a public swimming pool – all of these have now become risky and complicated. It’s a good opportunity to see how much of what we lost is critical to our wellbeing, and what isn’t really necessary. For example, many have noticed how much we used to rush all the time. And now – when we are mostly at home – we are not rushing any more. Why did I rush so much? This makes us see the degree to which our individual agency is complicit with neoliberal market agendas, with particular ways of life. The same goes for environmental concerns.

 

Contrast that with the case of schools, where everybody is recognising the significance of state educational provision as a social foundation of children’s lives. That’s been a really important rediscovery: the centrality of public services and amenities. Suddenly people are saying thank you to the bin men and delivery drivers. They are pining to go back to libraries and swimming pools. The pandemic has also exposed, very clearly, the negative contours of a lot of things we previously glazed over. It’s a time for reflection on commonality, but also about inequalities, which are playing themselves out very clearly in the pandemic. Racial and class inequality, the evisceration of public services over the last ten years or so, poverty and its effects on health outcomes, and domestic violence. The pandemic is an opportunity to look at the naked reality of our lives and to demand change.

Q

The White Review

— In what ways do you see this as a distinctly philosophical opportunity – as opposed to just a public policy or sociological one?

A

Havi Carel

—  It is a philosophical opportunity because philosophers try to understand what makes us the way we are; what is essential to our being qua humans; what are accidental or arbitrary features. One fundamental aspect that has been brought to the fore in the pandemic is the primacy of our social existence – our social being, what Heidegger calls ‘Being-with’. People are not satisfied with Zoom meetings and Zoom parties. They want the real thing. Why is that? It is because we are embodied through and through. Our social needs are not met solely through disembodied communication on the phone or an online platform. Seeing my mother on Zoom isn’t at all like being with her. The gap is now more visible.

 

The very fabric of our life has been shredded by the pandemic in so many ways. So it’s an exercise in applied philosophy to examine that fabric; to look at the shreds and say: why did we do it like this? It is a powerful and pressing invitation for philosophers to look at which of these we want to restore and which to discard. How we live, work, interact with others, travel, commute, raise our children – everything is going to be different now. Another thing that’s interesting is to see how quickly our notions of what is normal and abnormal can shift. A few months ago if you saw somebody walking down the street wearing a face-mask and rubber gloves, you’d think: eccentric. Now we’ve come to live with a level of risk that requires them. And in other respects we might say: it’s not normal for people to be at home all the time; or to not attend school.  It leads you to question how plastic these conceptions are.

Q

The White Review

— In terms of epistemic injustice – this idea you borrow from Miranda Fricker of wrong committed to someone in their capacity as a knower. Are we going to enter into a more difficult phase for patients with regards to communicating their illnesses and being treated with epistemic integrity?

A

Havi Carel

—  I’m not sure. I think that with the pandemic – because there have been a lot of testimonies of people who were ill, and people who looked after people who were ill, and health professionals – it’s made such testimonies more mainstream; more accepted within broader society. The basic logic of the pandemic is that we could each be hit by the virus; every one of us could get sick. So I think that could really help ameliorate epistemic injustice, because these testimonies were listened to respectfully. Because it was a new disease, everyone was saying: what is it like? So people – especially health professionals – were seeking out those testimonies. There isn’t one stigmatised group of people who are sick; we’re all potentially Covid patients. However, particular groups are more vulnerable to being seriously ill and that has re-traced the known fault-lines of social and health inequality. A lot of ageism has come out of some of the discussions around care homes, and in the lack of planning for what to do about the care sector. Similarly, race and class, as well as age and pre-existing health conditions are also critical predictors of serious illness. So we can also now clearly see the architectures of inequality that have been made starkly apparent by the pandemic. The pandemic has made the reality of social and health inequality clearly visible to all of us. And of course such visibility is a call to action from the government and others.

Q

The White Review

— You introduce this idea of ‘bodily doubt’ which you developed in a paper from 2014; given the global uncertainty and distrust of bodies that you’ve described, how is that idea applicable to our current situation?

A

Havi Carel

—  I came up with the idea of bodily doubt through my own bodily experience – I was once overcome by the realisation that my body could betray me at any moment. If you think about how we normally function: you sit down, and you don’t really doubt that when you stand up you’ll be able to keep your balance. Or you eat a meal in the full anticipation that your body will digest the nutrients and you won’t be sick, and so on. So again, it’s this idea of disrupting the normal; the tacit; the taken for granted; the transparent functioning of the body. And replacing it with bodily doubt: what if it doesn’t? Why am I expecting my body to be infallible in that particular way? Why am I expecting today to be like yesterday and tomorrow to be like today? It’s inspired by Hume’s Problem of Induction: on the basis of what do I presume all these things about tomorrow? On the basis of today. It’s just an intuition, or a hope, or an expectation. The idea of bodily doubt was that bodily experience can very suddenly shift into this mode of doubt, where you think: actually, I’m not feeling certainty. I’m not feeling this sense of bodily transparency. I want to play the piano, and I trust my fingers to just play the music; or I type on the computer and I trust my fingers to express my ideas. This idea of transparency is really key to my understanding of what human health is. All of these things we do, we do with this sense of trust and continuity and transparency of our bodies. Bodily doubt takes the tacit and makes it explicit. And what was interesting for me is that this theorisation emerged out of a very strong bodily sense of doubt, of vulnerability and susceptibility that I experienced. Phenomenologically, our sensations and experiences – even if they’re not necessarily verbalised or articulated – can give rise to philosophical ideas. So this idea of bodily doubt really links with what I was saying earlier about global uncertainty. The trust and the confidence about so many aspects of our lives have been taken away and replaced by this profound and pervasive sense of uncertainty and distrust. 

Q

The White Review

— You also write about Sartre’s idea of intersubjectivity, and how we experience our bodies as experienced by others. How does that correspond to what you’ve just described in terms of this new suspicion and uncertainty?

A

Havi Carel

—  I think we’re seeing two processes. The one is a process of increased solidarity and increased care. There has been a really impressive and inspiring movement of self-organisation and local support groups, setting up ways of supporting neighbours and checking in on people. And that kind of solidarity – and also solidarity with health professions, the NHS and other key workers and services – that’s been profoundly pleasing to see. But that is contrasted with the sense of suspicion and unsafety that people feel when they go to public spaces. Many people are profoundly frightened of a jogger running past them. It moves you from a state of being possibly receptive – open towards others, curious about other people – to experiencing other people as this threat or as competition for resources, as we saw with shortage of key items in the beginning when people were overbuying supplies. So one thing the pandemic revealed is that intersubjectivity has this richness to it; it can’t be characterised as positive or negative. It is just the realm within which we exist socially and interact with other people. People quickly became stressed and frightened. And stress and fear are never a good backdrop to social interactions. 

Q

The White Review

—  Right, but when you talk about Sartre’s third order of the body (intersubjectivity) in Phenomenology of Illness, you say that it is often characterised as negative – through feelings like shame and guilt, especially for patients. So how does that relate to our new bodily status as potential patients of a lethal disease?

A

Havi Carel

When you’re ill or receiving healthcare, the main way in which you experience that third order is to see your body as it is seen through the eyes of health professionals. And that is often based on a deficit perspective. When I go to the respiratory clinic, they measure my lung function and compare it to the average person of my age and weight. People often experience receiving healthcare as very demoralising, because it focuses on the dysfunction, because they want to do something about it. That’s just the nature of modern medicine. In cases of chronic illness, where people live with a condition for years, it’s important to counterbalance this deficit view with a view of what is possible. Often when people meet people who live with illness or disability, they’re surprised that they manage to do x, y, or z. The assumption and focus is on what they cannot do. This focus on constraints has to be tempered by a focus on what the person can do; what they enjoy, and so on. The negativity of these encounters result in my starting to experience myself as lacking, because that’s how others experience me. And that is what needs to change. Sartre in general was negative about our interactions with other people – for example in his analysis of the gaze. The gaze of the other is critical, undermining, annihilating. But there are other ways of theorising encounters that see them as much more benevolent and supportive. For example, in psychoanalytic and feminist approaches, where the gaze and attention of the other are crucial for one’s wellbeing and development as a child. The recognition I get from others affirms me and my place within the family and the world.

Q

The White Review

— And that feeds into your ideas about wellbeing. How are you thinking about wellbeing and illness at the moment?

A

Havi Carel

It’s just an infinitely fascinating area, because people have very varied conceptions of what wellbeing or happiness or flourishing are. There are different ways of theorising and measuring and understanding these terms. There are different ways of positioning wellbeing as a value amongst others. Thinking specifically about the pandemic: there are people who have recovered. They show an enormous sense of gratitude and victory about surviving the illness. I think that’s very telling. Because when people say that a lot of the deaths took place in care homes, the implicit sentiment that might lurk behind that statement is that these people are very sick anyway; they would have died in a few months; they’re already in an institution. But that is an obscene way to think about human life and human value. And that’s primarily driven by my sense that the value of someone’s life is incredibly hard to evaluate from the outside. The first-person perspective gives us valuable information about whether a life is or is not worth living. People who are healthy can look at people living with a progressive illness or disability and say: I wouldn’t want to live like that; I’d rather be dead. But when you talk to people who live with a range of serious conditions, such as cancer, they rate their quality of life as not much lower than healthy people. They say: I’ve found a way to coexist with my condition in a way that gives me a sense of value, or worthiness, or joy, and so on. So it is just impossible to think about the wellbeing of specific situations – people in care homes – and to make judgements about the value or disvalue of such a life without having a very close acquaintance with that life. And that has to include the first-person perspective.

Q

The White Review

— In the book, you re-read Heidegger’s theory that we cannot experience the death of another authentically. Now that death is very much in the public domain, how would you develop that understanding?

A

Havi Carel

—  I think it is a positive thing that death is more in the public domain now. It’s good that people are urged or moved to discuss their end-of-life wishes with their family or loved ones. It’s useful because one Heideggerian insight is to say that death – or mortality – is something that we all share. And within that sharing itself, there is a commonality or a solidarity that emerges. Understanding that you will die; I will die; our bodies are fallible – going back to the MacIntyre stuff I mentioned earlier. It’s a foundation from which to connect with others, by saying, we all share this predicament. We’re all finite mortal creatures. 

Q

The White Review

— And that’s Heidegger’s idea of Being-towards-death.

A

Havi Carel

Exactly. Now what will happen to authentic Being-with-others as they are dying? That’s a really vexed question because at the moment, one of the worst aspects of the pandemic is that people can’t have their loved ones around them. The healthcare staff looking after them are wearing masks and visors so they are not able to interact and communicate with them as they want to. Can you authentically be with someone who’s dying by watching them on your phone? I don’t think so. There is an element of co-breathing and coexisting – of being together, holding hands and co-regulating emotions. That breathing and stress towards-death is by definition embodied and physical. So it’s not that I think the possibility of authentic Being-with someone who’s dying is impossible; it’s that the pandemic raises enormous challenges for that, because of the infectiousness of the disease.

Q

The White Review

— I wanted to talk about Life of Breath. In Phenomenology of Illness, you write that ‘the intimate entwining of life and breath makes breathlessness a juncture of the physiological, psychological, existential, spiritual, and cultural.’ How has the project expanded upon that?

A

Havi Carel

—  We took research methods from arts and humanities and social science disciplines like philosophy, medical history, medical anthropology, literature, and said: we’re not looking at breathing and breathlessness from a medical point of view, but we’re using those disciplines to study breathing as a bodily phenomenon, an experience. The project was motivated by the insight that treating breathlessness solely as a medical symptom loses out on so much of the richness of that experience. If you think about a few of the everyday contexts in which people experience breathlessness: when they have panic attacks; when they’re exerting themselves at sports; when they’re holding their breath; when they’re running for the bus. But also, it’s part of how end-of-life is experienced. Breathlessness is the most common and pervasive, but also the most distressing aspect of end of life. You become increasingly breathless, and that increases towards the last few days or the last few hours, and eventually when you die, you stop breathing. Understanding these experiences is something much wider, much richer than the medical point of view, which is: you’re breathless, how many breaths are you taking a minute; what is the oxygen saturation level; what is your lung capacity, and so on. So within medicine, breathlessness is measured as lung function. But knowing somebody’s lung function doesn’t tell you anything about how that affects their everyday functioning – what level of distress or anxiety they might associate with their breathlessness. How they understand and experience breathlessness. What we did in the Life of Breath is go beyond this medical view that breathlessness is a physiological symptom, to seeing breathing as something that accompanies everything we do in life. You play a musical instrument; you talk to your friends; you dance; you go for a run; you sleep; you have sex. All of these things require breath. 

 

We use the same term ‘breathlessness’ to distinguish healthy breathlessness and pathological breathlessness. Healthy breathlessness is just the sense of exertion you might have as a healthy person when you exercise. This is categorised again by that sense of transparency, safety, enjoyment. Contrast that with what I call ‘pathological breathlessness’, the kind of breathlessness you experience when you’ve got a respiratory or cardiac disease. That breathlessness is experienced as overwhelming, frightening, threatening, uncontrollable. It’s very different, and using one term to denote both healthy and pathological breathlessness conceals this profound difference. One thing I do in my research is articulate the difference. 

Q

The White Review

— In terms of supplementing the medical discourses, which approach has been most revealing?

A

Havi Carel

—  For me, it was this distinction between normal and pathological breathlessness. Another thing that was very exciting was the work of Kyle Pattinson and his team from Oxford University (Breathe Oxford), who have studied how breathlessness is constructed by the brain. They work on the neuroscience of breathlessness, looking at what happens in people’s brains when they experience breathlessness. One thing we have learned from Kyle’s work is that breathlessness isn’t just a physiological sensation; it is also a conscious, cognitive experience which is informed and shaped by our past experiences. So if you have lots of repeated negative experiences of breathlessness – in public, or it’s made you feel unsafe – eventually your assessment of your own breathlessness will become more negative and more extreme. You will become more breathless, in virtue of having had lots of negative experiences. And the way to explain that is through a term called interoceptive hypervigilance: this is when you become so highly sensitised to your own sensation of breathlessness, that it gets amplified by your brain – being sensed as more acute than it was in the past. 

 

This idea of hypervigilance relates back to the earlier discussion of suspicious and heightened responses to our own and others’ bodies in the pandemic. We were asked to ‘stay alert’! And this sense of anxiety, alertness, vigilance, has been internalised. The heightened awareness about one’s own body and the bodies of others cuts both ways. It can be enlightening – many of us are paying attention to breathing for the first time – but it can also be exhausting. Hypervigilance requires a lot of energy, focus and attention. Being constantly worried and anxious is a taxing and dangerous state to be in over time.

Q

The White Review

— And the project ended just before the pandemic?

A

Havi Carel

—  Yes! Life of Breath was a joint project between Bristol and Durham, and the Bristol side finished on 31 March! But I think of the Life of Breath project as preparatory work that will help us theorise and better understand the dynamics, politics and impact of the pandemic.

Q

The White Review

—  Could you describe in what ways? And if you had two or three more years, which areas would you now be pivoting towards?

A

Havi Carel

—  A new project I’m doing now with collaborators in the UK and Japan is a joint study looking at experiences of social distancing – at the phenomenology of being in lockdown, or more generally, distancing from other people. This is, for me, a continuation of the Life of Breath work. Another area we would have certainly tried to shed more light on is end-of-life care, how central breathlessness is to end-of-life experiences and to the distress of those who are with the dying. Kate Binnie, a Life of Breath researcher, developed a method called Breath-Body-Mind Integration. The idea is that you learn ways to breathe with the person who is dying, in a way that helps regulate emotion for both persons. There is so much more to do; breathlessness has been totally neglected by our culture.

Q

The White Review

— How have you thought differently about your own research going forward in light of the pandemic?

 

A

Havi Carel

—  Now that Life of Breath is finished, I’ve turned my attention to two new ideas. One is the distinction between the normal and the pathological that I talked about earlier, the idea that areas of pathology within philosophy itself can be powerful vehicles for philosophical analysis and understanding. I started thinking about the normal and the pathological as terms that are useful within philosophy of medicine. Because in philosophy of medicine – and in medicine itself – you want to be able to define what counts as normal for a particular person or bodily function – like breathing or heart rate – and what counts as pathological. And that got me thinking that maybe we can think of pathology more broadly as forms of failure, or aberration, or dysfunction within philosophy itself. What would happen if we focused on those? So for example in epistemology: instead of thinking about knowledge and truth, what would happen if we started thinking about ignorance and untruth? What would happen if instead of focusing on justice and fairness and equality, we take as our starting point injustice and inequality and work from there? It just struck me that it could be quite an interesting philosophical paradigm to try and develop. 

 

This project will also think about biomedicine’s damaging attachment to these categories of normal and pathological and how they inform the way that illness gets differently categorised. Failure, aberration and dysfunction are already ‘pathologies’ by the standard understanding of normativity. And one could even argue that such forms have to remain ‘deviant’ in order to provide normativity with its ‘outside’, as it were. What does that do to our conceptions of people who do not fit the ‘normal’ category? How can we develop more creative, tolerant and inclusive ways to view forms of diversity?

 

The second project is on epistemic injustice – the idea that you can treat others unjustly as knowers. When people express their opinion, we judge their credibility. Such judgments are often corrupted by stereotypes and biases, ones that often target women, people of colour, or psychiatric patients. Once their testimonies are deprived of credibility, people are silenced, and therefore deprived of power. This is epistemic injustice, an injustice done to someone in their capacity as knower. I want to study how epistemic injustice occurs in healthcare. We also need to develop effective ameliorative strategies for epistemic injustice. Those are the main projects I’ll be working on for the next few years, but I am also still working on the phenomenology of the pandemic. There is a need to understand how our experiences change as the pandemic continues and how we can mitigate the social and other losses experienced because of it.

 

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

is a journalist and critic. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Economist, the Financial Times, Prospect and Verso, among other places. He also covers art and experimental music for Elephant magazine.

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