What Society Do We Live In? Doctor Gavin Francis on Precarity, Vulnerability, and Narrative

In today’s podcast, EIC Brandy Schillace interviews Gavin Frances, Scottish physician and writer of both travel and medical works of nonfiction. His books include True North, about the artic, Adventures in Human Being, a cultural map of the body, and Shapeshifters, looking at changes in our bodies over time (a Sunday Times Book of the Year in 2018). Today, we began our discussion, however, with housing and health. In a recent social media discussion, Dr. Frances took issue with the problems of poor housing and detrimental effects. As a physician, he finds himself writing letters saying a patient’s housing is making them ill—but, he asks, shouldn’t this be obvious to all? Both infant mortality and also the burden of mental health are deeply influenced by dangerous, unsafe, and precarious housing. What if, Gavin asks, access to housing is based upon a relationship that is itself unhealthy? Or what about those who constantly live in fear of losing a housing subsidy? It comes down to what kind of society we want to live in, and we judge society on how they treat the most unfortunate. The interview goes on to discuss Gavin’s books and his work as a GP. The kind of journeys he finds himself making in his patients lives bear similarities to the type of mental journeys he made as a travel writer. In so many ways, the humanities in all their variety allow for a more intimate look at medicine, health, and social justice. Please join us to hear the interview, and read more about Gavin’s work here: http://www.gavinfrancis.com/index.html.

Listen to the podcast here.

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