When Local Is Global and Health Is Transnational: Decolonizing the Border between Global and Local Health Matters

Jan 22, 2021

by Rachel Chapman, HAI Technical Advisor, UW Associate Professor of Anthropology

On Friday, December 18th 2020, HAI convened a symposium co-sponsored with Seattle Global to Local and members of Mama Amaan.  Mama Amaan is a team of community-based women health care providers of African descent trained in community participatory action research and culturally congruent perinatal health education that has grown out of a series of collaborations with HAI and other partners in Seattle.  The symposium was an informal forum following up on a conversation sparked in September 2020, during an engaging panel organized by Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA) titled “Global Health at Home”.  This panel explored the connections between global health and the health needs of our local communities in the context of the twin pandemics of COVID and systemic racism.  The Mama Amaan Project partnership between HAI, Somali Health Board, Parent Trust and the University of Washington was featured in the WGHA event as a case study of work in Seattle being done by organizations whose work spanned global and local engagement.  The Mama Amaan Project was centered on community-based peer-to-peer perinatal education and social support for women in Somali communities in South Seattle, including sites at Educare, New Holly Library, HealthPoint Kent and Living Well Kent.  We wanted to take this opportunity to thank these generous partners for our work together.  We also wanted to bring them into dialogue with new organizations – International Community Health Services, Mother Africa and Global to Local Seattle to reflect on the local and global implications of ongoing work that each organization is involved in, hopefully in ways that inspire new collaborations and visions for inquiry and impact.

In a roundtable format, each participant at the symposium was invited to explore the possibilities, problems and challenges of “bringing global health home” as well as redefining the global in the local.  As one participant queried, “How can we challenge the notion that drivers of health improvement, equity and health justice flow from the Global North to the Global South and then somehow need to “return” bringing the global “back” home.  We need to challenge the idea that this global expertise is not already here.  That is, can we unsettle our notions of both ‘here’ and ‘there’?”  We look forward to continuing this conversation with the brilliant spectrum of past, present and hopefully future partner organizations and individuals who participated.  We thank and commend all participants for their contributions to health in Seattle and around the globe.

Learn more about HAI’s growing portfolio in Washington State, including the Mama Amman Project

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