State of Health

9780520299290_comp_proofState of Health: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez

2019 | University of California Press


“State of Health offers a brilliant contribution to the timely question of what constitutes good health care and, in doing so, expands how we understand the power of medicine.”—Emily Yates-Doerr, author of The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala

“This book brilliantly captures a historical moment in the early years of Venezuela’s implementation of Barrio Adentro, a state-sponsored program of social medicine. Cooper deftly theorizes how medicine can serve as a source of pleasure, as a therapeutic tool to redress social and political inequality, and as a technology of social justice to empower disenfranchised communities.”—P. Sean Brotherton, author of Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba

“A refreshing and ethnographically intimate account of one of the most creative experiments in health care of our time. State of Health itself exudes the pleasure expressed by patients and volunteers when care becomes a key locus for embodying equality and solidarity.”––Charles L. Briggs, coauthor of Tell Me Why My Children Died

About the Book:

State of Health takes readers inside one of the most controversial regimes of the twenty-first century—Venezuela under Hugo Chávez—for a revealing description of how people’s lives changed for the better as the state began reorganizing society. With lively and accessible storytelling, Amy Cooper chronicles the pleasure people experienced accessing government health care and improving their quality of life. From personalized doctor’s visits to therapeutic dance classes, new health care programs provided more than medical services. State of Health offers a unique perspective on the significance of the Bolivarian Revolution for ordinary people, demonstrating how the transformed health system succeeded in exciting people and recognizing historically marginalized Venezuelans as bodies who mattered.


Are you considering State of Health for course adoption? Get in touch! I would be excited to discuss options to directly support student learning, such as Skypeing into your classroom.

Download the First Chapter for Free Here.