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. 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.
About the author
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).