PMCH Seminar Series- Presenter: Shannon Guillot-Wright

  • When:
    3/29/2018 12:00 PM
    3/29/2018 1:00 PM
  • Location: Maurice Ewing Hall Room 1.104

Paper Title:

Cheap labor: Situating the health worlds of seafarers alongside U.S. political shifts in labor and migration policies

Author Bio:

Shannon Guillot-Wright is Community Health Research Fellow at the Center for Community and Global Health Innovation, Health Policy and Legislative Affairs and Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). Her research focuses on the social determinants of health, with a specific focus on how structural violence affects health and well-being intergenerationally. Prior to joining UTMB, she received an MA in Human Rights from Columbia University where she studied the historical and political discursive practices that legitimized ICE detention centers and a BA in Urban Studies from Southern Nazarene University, with an emphasis in sociology, psychology, and religious studies.

With support from the Harry Huntt Ransom Dissertation Fellowship Award in the Medical Humanities, her dissertation is a photo-ethnography that seeks to understand how twentieth-century labor movements contribute to precarious employment as a social determinant of health for migrant seafarers (people who live and work at sea). She is also part of a social and behavioral health research team, funded through the Menninger Clinic's BridgeUp grant, that is studying how adolescents embody adverse childhood/community experiences. Shannon is the co-convener of Galveston's Adverse Childhood and Community Experiences Collaborative, which fosters both grassroots and policy change to prevent chronic disease through trauma-informed community models.

Shannon was a selected artist for the National Academy of Medicine's Visualize Health Equity pop-up gallery in Washington, D.C. and her art is on permanent display at: She is also the co-founder and President of TWELVE, a community-based participatory photo voice project that uses photography to highlight the diversity of people, scenery, architecture, and viewpoints. TWELVE is a non-profit initiative fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).


The changed conditions of U.S. labor and worker protections that began in the late 1970s, seen most clearly in market disciplines and trade agreements driven by neoliberal policies, helped to create a precarious workforce. Precarious employment comprises people who lack legal protections, social security in terms of adequate wages and benefits, certainty over job status, and occupational safety. I present an analysis of seafaring regulations as one way to interrogate the health worlds of seafarers, paying particular attention to precarious employment and political economic dimensions as well as the everyday practices of seafarers working within the seafaring industry. In order to make sense of neoliberal globalization alongside the practices of seafarers, I focus my research on political and economic shifts in the recognition and regulation of international and national policy, alongside photo-ethnographic research with Filipino seafarers on board a vessel that docks in Southeast Texas. This research explores health prevention through the historical discourse of the distribution of power and resources instead of risk and disease. Therefore, I posit that the health inequities that follow precarious employment for seafarers are produced through the discourse of economic and social policies that are inscribed onto the body (embodied).

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