Tapestries: Interwoven voices of local and global identities


Statement of Purpose: Sometimes, I find it difficult to comprehend the vast problems and systems of inequity that exist within the United States’ (US) healthcare system. The US’s profit-driven model of health is so deeply integrated into our society that it feels impossible to change. It is hard to imagine an alternative. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment where the health of our communities is brought to the forefront. It is a moment when as a society we are beginning to understand that health crises are not a sum of individual failures, but instead are systematically produced and reproduced by systems of control. This is a reality that marginalized communities have been facing throughout history, a reality that marginalized communities have been confronting and organizing around. One way these issues are addressed is through the creation of autonomous health movements. In this paper, I contextualize the history and interventions of autonomous health movements and harm reductions practices and provide a case study of Southside Harm Reduction Services. I approach this study through thick observation and interviews with harm reduction practitioners. I argue that exploring autonomous health movements is a way to see alternative and liberating ways to address health in our community. Historical and contemporary examples of autonomous health work demonstrate that models of health independent of medical social control already exist. These models are already saving lives and creating new possibilities.

Author Biography

Louise Bequeaith (she/her) is graduating from Macalester in the spring of 2023 with a major in American Studies, a minor in Biology, and concentration in Community and Global Health. Post graduation, she hopes to work in the field of community health, integrating an understanding of the interconnectedness of social factors and health justice.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License