Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice
The Covid pandemic and the shocking racial disparities in its impact. The surge in inflammatory illnesses such as gastrointestinal disorders and asthma. Mass uprisings around the world in response to systemic racism and violence. Rising numbers of climate refugees. Our bodies, societies, and planet are inflamed.
Boldly original, Inflamed takes us on a medical tour through the human body—our digestive, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. Unlike a traditional anatomy book, this groundbreaking work illuminates the hidden relationships between our biological systems and the profound injustices of our political and economic systems. Inflammation is connected to the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the diversity of the microbes living inside us, which regulate everything from our brain’s development to our immune system’s functioning. It’s connected to the number of traumatic events we experienced as children and to the traumas endured by our ancestors. It’s connected not only to access to health care but to the very models of health that physicians practice.
Raj Patel, the renowned political economist and New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with the physician Rupa Marya to offer a radical new cure: the deep medicine of decolonization. Decolonizing heals what has been divided, reestablishing our relationships with the Earth and one another. Combining the latest scientific research and scholarship on globalization with the stories of Marya’s work with patients in marginalized communities, activist passion, and the wisdom of Indigenous groups, Inflamed points the way toward a deep medicine that has the potential to heal not only our bodies, but the world.
Praise for Inflamed
“A work of exhilarating scope and relevance to this infected moment in the body politic. Inflamed mixes medicine, argument, and metaphor into a post-pandemic poultice: reading it is the first step in the deep medicine it prescribes. What a rare and powerful experience to feel a book in your very body.”
—Naomi Klein, author of On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal
“Inflammation is both the metaphor and the stated subject of this ambitious interdisciplinary tome co-written by Patel, a journalist and activist, and Marya, a physician and composer. Together they map the connections between public health, social injustice, economic disparities, climate change, and ancestral trauma, making the case that our crappy world needs a new medical paradigm.”
—Molly Young, Vulture
“Most social justice movements have recognized that the health of oppressed people is worse than the health of those in power. This well-written, compelling book expands on that idea with the concept of ‘deep medicine,’ which looks at health disparities brought on by colonialism, politics, and capitalism . . . An excellent book for anyone concerned with health, community, or the environment. The accessible writing will draw readers in.”
—Margaret Henderson, Library Journal
“Science and medicine are often treated as fields that are subtracted from social movements, separate from the struggle for power that billions of human beings are embroiled in and abstracted from the material conditions around us. Luckily for us, Rupa Marya and Raj Patel are out here making these connections and encouraging us to see these as processes we all must take ownership of as we fight to have control of our surroundings. This book is on fire.”
—Boots Riley, frontperson for The Coup and writer/director of “Sorry to Bother You”
“A critique of the wreckage of capitalism and colonialism for our time–beautifully written, storytelling at its best. This book can change your life.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
About the Authors
Dr. Rupa Marya is a physician, an activist, a mother, and a composer. She is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she practices and teaches internal medicine. She is a cofounder of the Do No Harm Coalition, a collective of health workers committed to addressing disease through structural change. At the invitation of Lakhóta health leaders, she is helping to set up the Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm at Standing Rock to decolonize medicine and food. She is a cofounder of the Deep Medicine Circle, an organization committed to healing the wounds of colonialism through food, medicine, story, and learning. Working with her husband, the agroecological farmer Benjamin Fahrer, and the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone, she is a part of the Farming Is Medicine project, where farmers are recast as ecological stewards of rematriated land and food is liberated from the market economy. She has toured twenty-nine countries with her band, Rupa and the April Fishes, whose music was described by the legend Gil Scott-Heron as “Liberation Music.”
Raj Patel is a research professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, a professor in the university’s department of nutrition, and a research associate at Rhodes University, South Africa. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved and the New York Times bestselling The Value of Nothing, and the coauthor of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things. A James Beard Foundation Leadership Award winner, he is the codirector of a groundbreaking documentary on climate change and the global food system, The Ants and the Grasshopper. He serves on the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and has advised governments worldwide on the causes of and solutions to crises of sustainability.