Online Program

Non-human agency: What's a city bus stop bench have to do with infant mortality?

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Marcy Paul, MA, Department of Behavioral and Community Health/Center for Community Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center - Texas Prevention Institute, Fort Worth, TX
Infant Mortality, the death of a baby before his or her first birthday is still very much a problem in Fort Worth, Texas as well as globally. The highest numbers in parts of Fort Worth are as high as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births. These numbers, representing the loss of African American babies, are twice as high as white babies and it's time to stop asking why. In recent years research has begun to understand this phenomenon by exploring social and cultural factors such as stress levels, support networks, and access to health care that impact African American women of child bearing ages. The connect of infant mortality to institutional racism cannot and should no longer be ignored. This paper will argue for a paradigm shift from understanding infant mortality as a result of human agency alone and instead address the interconnections of human and non-human agency. Can a non-human object such as a bus stop bench impact infant mortality? In what ways? Specifically examining non-human objects such as a bus stop bench, I hope to activate, as Jane Bennett wrote, "the attentiveness needed to understand nonhuman forces operating outside and inside the body" (2010, p. xiv). Is a bus stop bench just a bus stop bench or is it a link to saving our African American babies?

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate ways in which object oriented ontology and non-human agency impacts infant mortality. Identify the intersectionality of non-human agency, institutional racism, and infant mortality

Keyword(s): Infant Mortality, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved with the research as project manager. For this abstract I am the author of the paper and presentation. I have been working on this study for the past three years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.