A People's Social Epi: Theory and Methods for an Antiracist and Decolonized Future of "Radical Possibility"

August 16

NYU GPH, 708 Broadway, Room 801, New York, NY 10003 / Virtual option available

Hosted by the GPH Center for Anti-Racism and Social Justice in Public Health (CASJPH)

Public health remains ensconced in a heavily positivist, reductionist, settler-colonial, racial-capitalist “ritual” of knowledge extractivism and expropriation wherein credentialed researchers mine marginalized communities for data to (re)package and (re)distribute as their (our) own knowledge. Join Ryan J. Petteway, DrPH for a talk that draws from social epidemiology, critical, critical race, Black feminist, and decolonizing theory literatures to outline a social epi of “radical openness and possibility” (hooks)—an inclusive space rooted in antiracist and decolonizing praxis for the production of counternarratives within discourse of health (in)equity.

He will reflect on applications of participatory and decolonized approaches within his own work that center considerations of epistemic justice, data justice, and narrative power, i.e. research as resistance and counternarrative; introduce an updated framework for a People’s Social Epi—a social epi of, by, and with the people, not simply about them/us; and articulate a vision of social epi for resistance and counternarrative, challenging public health’s history of violence against our bodies, its (re)colonization of our lives, and its (a)political silence on matters of epistemic and social injustice. 

About the Speaker:
Ryan J. Petteway, DrPH is a social epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. His applied research integrates social epidemiology, critical theory, decolonizing methods, and community-based participatory research (CBPR) to examine notions of place, embodiment, and “placemaking” in community health and development, making use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to democratize research and practice processes. This work includes the development of a STEAM-based high school curriculum/training program focused on place, health, and social determinants. More broadly, his scholarship engages: 1) notions of epistemic, procedural, and distributive justice within public health knowledge production processes, and 2) applications of critical theory to examine dominant discourse/narrative frames of “health equity,” particularly as informed/animated by Black feminist, critical race, and antiracist theoretical orientations.

Dr. Petteway also engages these scholarship areas as an award-winning poet. His poem, “TOGETHER//Untethered”, was awarded an April 2020 National Poetry Month Prize and nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize. His poem/essay, “LATENT//Missing”, was honored with the 2021 Lawrence W. Green Paper of the Year Award by Health Education & Behavior at the 2021 meeting of the Society for Public Health Education, while his essay, “Poetry as Praxis and ‘Illumination’: Towards an Epistemically Just Health Promotion for Resistance, Healing, and (Re)Imagination”, was similarly honored with the 2022 Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year Award by Health Promotion Practice at the 2022 meeting of SOPHE. Other peer-reviewed works have appeared, amongst other places, in the International Journal of Epidemiology (“Something, Something, Something by Race, 2021”) and Bellevue Literary Review (“Billable”—finalist for the 2022 John & Eileen Allman Prize for Poetry). He currently serves as founding co-editor for the first-ever standing poetry section in a peer-reviewed public health journal.

Prior to his doctoral training, Dr. Petteway served as social epidemiologist and chief epidemiologist for the Baltimore City Health Department. He is an alum of the University of Virginia (BA, ‘06), University of Michigan (MPH, ‘08), and University of California, Berkeley (DrPH, ‘16).