A detailed exploration of parents’ fight for a safe environment for their kids, interrogating how race, class, and gender shape health advocacy The success of food allergy activism in highlighting the dangers of foodborne allergens shows how illness communities can effectively advocate for the needs of their members. 

In Food Allergy Advocacy: Parenting and the Politics of Care (U Minnesota Press, 2022), Danya Glabau follows parents and activists as they fight for allergen-free environments, accurate labeling, the fair application of disability law, and access to life-saving medications for food-allergic children in the United States. At the same time, she shows how this activism also reproduces the culturally dominant politics of personhood and responsibility, based on an idealized version of the American family, centered around white, middle-class, and heteronormative motherhood. By holding up the threat of food allergens to the white nuclear family to galvanize political and scientific action, Glabau shows, the movement excludes many, including Black women and disabled adults, whose families and health have too often been marginalized from public health and social safety net programs. Further, its strategies are founded on the assumption that market-based solutions will address issues of social exclusion and equal access to healthcare. Sharing the personal experiences of a wide spectrum of people, including parents, support group leaders, physicians, entrepreneurs, and scientists, Food Allergy Advocacy raises important questions about who controls illness activism. Using critical, intersectional feminism to interrogate how race, class, and gender shape activist priorities and platforms, it shows the way to new, justice-focused models of advocacy.

Danya Glabau is a medical anthropologist and science and technology studies scholar who researches patient activism, the political economy of the global pharmaceutical industry, and feminist cybercultures. She is a faculty member at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the Director of the Science and Technology Studies Program.

Autumn Wilke works in higher education as an ADA coordinator and diversity officer and am also an author and doctoral candidate with research/topics related to disability and higher education.

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