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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter places the critical analysis of global health in wider intellectual and political perspective, situating critical thinking in relation to the philosophical idea of Enlightenment and ensuing debates about the nature of power, knowledge, and freedom. After a brief genealogy of critical thought, the chapter considers some of the main sources of critical thinking in global health and provides a brief survey of critical takes on health in the era of globalisation. It then considers three influential varieties of critique—of political economy, of representation, and of biopower—while touching on other critical perspectives, including feminism and anticolonial thought. As a way of prompting further reflection, the concluding section of the chapter considers recent debates about the problems of the critical enterprise itself.

Keywords: critique, Enlightenment, political economy, biopower, representation

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