Faculty Book: Barbara Katz Rothman

Barbara Katz Rothman
The Biomedical Empire: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic
(Stanford University Press, 2021)

image of book: The Biomedical EmpireWe are all citizens of The Biomedical Empire, though few of us know it, and even fewer understand the extent of its power. In this book, Barbara Katz Rothman clarifies that critiques of biopower and the "medical industrial complex" have not gone far enough, and asserts that the medical industry is nothing short of an imperial power. Factors as fundamental as one's citizenship and sex identity — drivers of our access to basic goods and services — rely on approval and legitimation by biomedicine. Moreover, a vast and powerful global market has risen up around the empire, making it one of the largest economic forces in the world. Katz Rothman shows that biomedicine has the key elements of an imperial power: economic leverage, the faith of its citizens, and governmental rule. She investigates the Western colonial underpinnings of the empire and its rapid intrusion into everyday life, focusing on the realms of birth and death. This provides her with a powerful vantage point from which to critically examine the current moment, when the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the power structures of the empire in unprecedented ways while sparking the most visible resistance it has ever seen.

Katz Rothman is a professor of sociology at Baruch College and The Graduate Center.

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Submitted on: JUN 1, 2021

Category: Faculty Books | Sociology