Barbara Katz RothmanDec 11, 2022
The Biomedical Empire
Lessons Learned from the COVID Pandemic
Stanford University Press 2021
We 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.
In The Biomedical Empire: Lessons Learned from the COVID Pandemic (Stanford UP, 2021), 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.
Barbara Katz Rothman is Professor of Sociology, at the City University of New York. She has served as President of Sociologists for Women in Society; the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Eastern Sociological Society. Her awards include the Jesse Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association, and an award for "Midwifing the Movement" from the Midwives Alliance of North America, and a distinguished Chair in Health Sciences from the Fulbright Association. She is the author of numerous books, most recently A Bun in the Oven: How the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization (2016).
Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He is the author of Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest: Reconstructing the Mississippi River (Lexington, 2022). His general area of study is on media representations of people and place at festivals and celebrations. He is currently working on his next book where he conducted research on an annual canoeing and kayaking event that takes place on the Upper Mississippi River. To learn more about Michael O. Johnston you can go to his website, Google Scholar, Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.