Health is a decidedly double-edged keyword. Etymologically, health derives from the Old English hælþ as related to “being whole, sound or well,” and thus the verb heal means “to make whole” or “to make robust.” Its figurative usage as a biologized descriptor for well-being—of the economy, communities, the environment—is so widespread as to be taken for granted. Much as Raymond Williams suggested about community, health, too, “can be the warmly persuasive word” that “seems never to be used unfavorably” ([1976] 2014, 76).

This essay may be found on page 107 of the printed volume.

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