I’ll be reading at two events this month. Please come say hello!


Monday, October 13

Greenlight Books, 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn

Launch of the Guernica magazine Annual

With readings by Nick Flynn, Rachel Riederer, Saeed Jones, Ann Neumann

And a Q&A with Guernica Editor in Chief Michael Archer

7:30 pm


Sunday, October 26

Unnameable Books, 600 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn

With readings by Dania Rajendra, Nathan Schneider and Ann Neumann*

Hosted by Robert Eshelman

6 pm

*I’ll be reading from my forthcoming book, to be published by Beacon Press next year

I have a new column, “The Patient Body,” at The Revealer, a publication of The Center for Religion and Media at New York University, where I was editor for three and a half years. When I stepped down in June, I was delighted to initiate the column which examines issues at the intersection of religion and medicine.

You can read the first installment on assisted suicide, “An Irresistable Force,” here and the second on kidney donations, “What’s a Kidney Worth” here. The fantastic Kali Handelmann is The Revealer’s new editor; I remain a contributing editor.

I’ll have an article in the New York Law Review in January 2014 that takes off from my Guernica piece earlier in the year and examines two places in the US where a patient can be fed against their will: a US prison and a Catholic hospital. The article has been a long time coming and is adapted from a talk I gave at the law school last year. I’m excited to see it in print!

My essay on race, class and hospice use will appear in Living With Class: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Material Culture, a new book edited by Brian Seitz and Ron Scapp (Palgrave Macmillan, December 2013). You can pre-order Living with Class here.

In September I wrote about a controversy regarding stem cell research and the Vatican for Religion & Politics. The article, “The Vatican’s New Clothes: Very Small Embryonic-Like Cells and Faith in Evidence Not Seen,” examines new research the Catholic Church invested one million dollars into, VSEL cells that, if properly harnessed, could prevent the use of embryonic stem cells which the church opposes. Scientists have debunked the research, claiming that it is false and ideologically driven. I interviewed leading bioethicists as well as Catholic and non-Catholic opponents of embryonic stem cell research. The piece was picked up by the Sidney Hillman Foundation. You can read it here.

From May:

It’s been exciting to watch a recent article I wrote for Waging Nonviolence (prompted by their brilliant editor, my friend Nathan Schneider) get picked up around the web.  “Guantanamo is not an anomoly” was picked up by Common Dreams and Salon!

After writing about Bill Coleman for Guernica magazine in January, I saw the (necessary, exciting) media explosion in April highlighting treatment of Guantanamo prisoners–and wondered why an essential part of the story was missing:  force-feedings, considered torture by most of the world, are done in U.S. prisons all the time.  That’s, in part, the point of my story on Bill.

Last week Guernica Magazine published my article, “The Longest Hunger Strike,” edited by the amazing journalist Jina Moore.

I’m delighted that Longreads and The Sidney Hillman Foundation have picked up the story.

Here’s a clip:

From Europe to East Asia, hunger-striking has been used for centuries to demand rights, most often by those who have little other way, beyond sacrifice of their own body, to protest. Before Ireland became Christian, self-starvation was known as Troscadh, a non-violent way to shame wrongdoers. In India the protester traditionally sat on the front step of the person who owed them money or had offended them. A Google alert reminds me daily that active hunger strikes are occurring around the world: a First Nations chief seeking rights for the indigenous in Canada; political prisoners in Turkey; Iranian and Afghan refugees in Berlin, Germany; indigenous prisoners in Santiago, Chile.

I’ve been saying for a few years now that the Catholic Church’s assault on end of life rights was coming, that it would incorporate the same strategies that were used to mobilize “pro-life” groups in the erosion of reproductive rights, that it would make use of lessons learned since Roe v Wade, that it would engage direct aid in dying laws as well as ancillary laws regarding patients’ rights, that it would take journalists a while to catch on, wary as they are of meaningful discussions about death, and that it would be a new primary issue on the “pro-life” platform.

My engaging and long conversation with Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, two nights ago confirmed that while the church issues “teaching statements” against aid in dying, elevating it to the top item on it’s Spring General Assembly agenda, a vast and well-funded network of activists across the nation will act on that statement in new and damaging ways.

In my recent piece at The Nation, I challenge journalists, left and right, to pay attention.  We’re not just talking about the legalization of aid in dying anymore.  We’re talking about an entire spectrum of end of life care, laws, and services that will be jeopardized by such activism, just as we enter a new phase in the health care crisis.

When I first returned to the U.S. in fall of 2007 after an extended trip around the world, I started the blog otherspoon to help re-orient myself to life back home.  The blog was wide-ranging and at times painfully personal.  I posted on current events, the sounds of my street, and thoughts about the various incredible places I had traveled through — I was searching for new occupation (though not necessarily the employment kind) and found it.  As I settled into an issue that increasingly consumed my writing and activism, otherspoon was taken over with news and observations related to patients’ rights and end of life issues.

Last year I took on editorship of The Revealer, a publication of New York University’s Center for Religion and Media.  It’s been a fantastic and enlightening endeavor for me, another outlet for examining religion, an area I often address at otherspoon under the rubric of health care.  But recently I’ve missed having a place where I could chronicle my thoughts on non-patients’ rights, non-religion things, the personal reflections that make up the rest of my life — hence this new blog, annneumann.

That’s not to say that religion and end of life issues won’t come up here!  But I’m excited to spend more time chronicling the books I’m reading, the movies and art I’m seeing, the minute and beautiful encounters of a life in New York City.

I’m thinking of this new site as an umbrella for my other efforts, a home base for the writing and thinking that keep me engaged, productive, and alive; a map to the articles and books I’m working on; essentially a more lyrical home that covers all of me.

Where to get more Ann:

My articles can be found here

The Revealer, a publication of NYU’s Center for Religion and Media (editor)

The Revealer on twitter and on facebook

otherspoon, a blog about religion and end of life care

otherspoon on twitter and facebook