GSL Publishes 14-article special issue reflecting on our “Immune Nations” Research-Creation Project

Title card for “Immune Nations” special issue.

Last week, GSL co-published a 14-article special issue in Imaginations – a journal cross-cultural image studies, which reflected on Immune Nations, a collaborative and interdisciplinary initiative that brought together a team of artists, academics, and healthcare professionals in order to explore the complex issues related to the use and distribution of vaccines in the world today.

While University of Alberta Arts and Design Professor, Natalie Loveless, edited the issue, it also featured a number of GSL co-authored pieces that we want to expand on below:

Memories and Records: Thoughts on The Vaccine Archive
by Vicki Sung-yeon Kwon, and GSL Research Manager Lathika Laguwaran:

In the article, the co-authors discuss their collaborative project Memories and Records: The Vaccine Archive, a display of vaccine-related memories and records of people from various parts of the world. As children of immigrants, the two researchers also explore the challenge of immunization for those living in Canada after migrating from their countries of origin. Read the article here.

Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic – Thoughts and Reflections Link
by Alison Humphrey, Caitlin Fisher, and GSL Director Steven J. Hoffman

In the article, the authors discuss “Shadowpox” – a full-body video game they jointly developed, designed for gallery installation that lets the player see the invisible effects that their choice to vaccinate, or not, has on their community. Players choose to “Get the Vaccine” or “Risk the Virus,” then watch the results of their decision as they fight the disease, protecting or infecting the people around them in a high-stakes scenario based on real-world data. During COVID-19, the team created a new, online version of the game, shifting the focal decision from vaccination to physical distancing. Shadowpox: #StayHomeEdition was submitted to the United Nations COVID-19 Response Creative Content Hub in April 2020. Read the article here.
To see how Shadowpox works, watch the video on the right.

Overview of Key Legal, Political, and Social Challenges Facing Global Vaccination Efforts Link  
by Nicola Sahar, Olivia Lee, GSL Director Steven J. Hoffman, and GSL Manager Lathika Laguwaran

In this article, the co-authors provide a high-level overview of five key challenges affecting the global vaccine uptake. First, availability is affected by the research costs and counterfeit vaccines. Second, accessibility is affected by distribution not being proportionate to need, and by poor infrastructure. Third, affordability is affected by intellectual property protections and costs of manufacturing and distribution. Fourth, appropriateness is affected by the way vaccine effectiveness varies and presents risks for immunocompromised populations. Fifth, acceptability is affected by controversies regarding risks and cultural objections. Read the full article here.

Can Art Influence Global Health Policy? Link  
by GSL Associate Director Patrick Fafard

In this article, Fafard examines the influence of art on global vaccination policy, with a special focus on contemplative art, designed to get us to look at issues differently, and advocacy art, making the case for quite specific policies or programs. Ultimately it argues that because policy choices are influenced by ideas and emotions, there is room for art to be indirectly influential when combined with action by social movements, at least those built around specific diseases. Read the full article here.

Learning from the Role of Art in Political Advocacy on HIV/AIDS Link  
by GSL Director Steven J. Hoffman, Annemarie Hou, Annie Jones, and Julia Woo


In the article, the authors tried to identify relationships between art and political advocacy in the context of the AIDS epidemic. Three key themes were identified: addressing negative stereotypes; the importance of education; and giving voice to individuals affected by HIV. The significance of iconic artist Keith Haring and two important artworks related to HIV advocacy—the Keiskamma Altarpiece and the Ribbon Project—are discussed, with lessons distilled for the role that art can play in political advocacy on global health issues more broadly. Read the full article here.

For an overview of the special issue and to read all the other articles in the collection, click here.


August 28, 2020

GSL Research Fellow Co-Authors Commentary on the IHR and Human Rights in the HHR Journal


September 11, 2020

GSL Director Quoted in Globe and Mail article on the Canadian Government's Deal with two COVID-Vaccine Manufacturers