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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This introductory article presents the concept of the pseudo as a means of challenging the confidence with which many within global health approach ideas and praxis in terms of binary oppositions, such as real or fake. We argue that this confidence, in clearly discernible dichotomies, ignores the core theme inspiring this special issue: that of the ‘in-between phenomena’–the fake-in-the-real, the authentic-in-the-inauthentic, and so forth. Instead of taking binary oppositions as stable, we examine empirical examples of continuums between polar opposites. Drawing on Popper’s discussion of pseudoscience, as theories existing between science and non-science, we approach the ambiguous, uncertain and unstable and ‘in-between’ phenomena as manifestations of pseudo global health. We argue that the pseudo enables approaches more reflective of the messiness and lack of certainty of everyday encounters with global health, while illuminating phenomena that are often kept ‘backstage’. Finally, we discuss three intersecting themes raised by the special issue articles: ideas of geography, and in particular, questions about assumed relationships between (jn)authenticity and locality; the role of methods in examining pseudo global health, and the role of power and how paying attention to areas of ambiguity can disrupt assumptions about who holds power and where power lies.

Original publication




Journal article


Critical Public Health

Publication Date





379 - 389