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Lunchtime Seminar, Sarah Horton

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
12:30pm – 2:00pm

Storrs Campus
Dodd 162

Lunchtime Seminar with Sarah Horton, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Denver

""Witnessing Invisible Deaths:The Challenges of Researching Heat Stroke in a ‘Hidden Population’"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Dodd Center 162 Storrs Campus *Lunch will be provided

This talk explores the methodological and evidentiary challenges to documenting and analyzing an epidemic of heatstroke among farmworkers in California’s Central Valley. Taking up Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ distinction between the act of “observation” and that of “witnessing” (1995), it considers a variety of strategies to make visible health inequalities normalized and obscured by official accounts. It shows that growers, the media, and state occupational health officials tend to naturalize farmworkers’ heat fatalities, portraying them as due to high temperatures or farmworkers’ pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, farmworkers themselves often routinize heat deaths, contributing to such deaths’ invisibility. Addressing the conflict between official accounts of heat deaths and local knowledge of deaths on the ground, this talk concludes by discussing a research project to document gaps in the heat death surveillance system itself. Sarah Horton is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Denver and author of “They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields:” Illness, Injury, and “Illegality” among U.S. Farmworkers (University of California Press, 2016). Her book was awarded the Robert Textor & Family Prize by the American Anthropological Association and received Honorable Mention for the Society of Anthropology of North America Book Prize.

Supplementary reading materials for this project are available upon request. If you would like these reading materials please contact

Co-Sponsored by the Human Rights Institute,Research Program on Global Health & Human Rights of the Human Rights Institute and El Instituto


Human Rights Institute (primary), UConn Master Calendar

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