Book Launch

Book Launch | Dying of Whiteness

03/05 Tuesday | 6pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join for the launch of Jonathan Metzl’s new book Dying of Whiteness, forthcoming from Basic Books, featuring the author in conversation with Alondra Nelson.

With the rise of the Tea Party and the election of Donald Trump, many middle- and lower-income white Americans threw their support behind conservative politicians who pledged to make life great again for people like them. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these voters’ very health at risk—and in the end, threaten everyone’s well-being.

Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl travels across America’s heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health. Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovers how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl’s systematic analysis of health data dramatically reveals they did just the opposite: these policies made life sicker, harder, and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid. Thus, white gun suicides soared, life expectancies fell, and school dropout rates rose.

Powerful, searing, and sobering, Dying of Whiteness ultimately demonstrates just how much white America would benefit by emphasizing cooperation, rather than by chasing false promises of supremacy.


Jonathan Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry, and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his MD from the University of Missouri, MA in humanities/poetics and Psychiatric internship/residency from Stanford University, and PhD in American Culture from University of Michigan. A 2008 Guggenheim fellow, Professor Metzl has written extensively for medical, psychiatric, and popular publications. His books include The Protest PsychosisProzac on the Couch, and Against HealthHow Health Became the New Morality.

Alondra Nelson is president of the Social Science Research Council and professor of sociology at Columbia University. An award-winning scholar of science, medicine, and social inequality, her recent books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the GenomeGenetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. Alondra has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality, and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligencebig data, direct-to-consumer genetics, and human gene-editing. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Data & Society Research Institute. Alondra is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology and is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association.

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