History Department
History Department

"Making Race, Making Health" Conference

Wed, November 12, 2008

"Making Race, Making Health" will bring close to thirty senior and emerging scholars in ethnic studies, African American History, Latino history, American Studies and the social history of medicine together to examine the intersection of race and health from comparative and transnational perspectives. David Oshinsky, the Jack S. Blanton Chair in History and 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for his book Polio: An American Story, will be the keynote speaker.

Questions about the shared quality of life and the distribution of health care are part of our common historical experience. Across the Americas, medicine is an important economic sector, and access to health care is also a key dimension of both citizenship and exclusion. Medical historians have explored the ways public health and medicine participate in the ideologies and institutions that maintain racial inequality, the experience of slavery and freedom, and defining the minimum conditions for citizenship and personal dignity. Historians and scholars in African American Studies, Latino Studies and Gender Studies have explored the ways men and women in communities of color have shaped and challenged the ideologies and institutions of health care.

Given the growth of shared thematic interests across these various disciplinary fields and geographic areas, Professor Laurie Green has seen “very few conferences where scholars interested in the intersection of race and the social history of medicine can interact with scholars with similar research interests who work in places outside the United States.” Professor Martin Summers observes that, “Rather than being the single panel on medical issues in ethnic studies or the race panel in the large conference in the history of medicine, "Making Race, Making Health" will help establish a face-to-face moment in the establishment of cross-hemispheric research network in the history of medicine.” The university's strength in Latin American studies makes it “a natural choice to host the gathering of scholars,” said conference co-organizer John Mckiernan-Gonzalez. Conference participants will present on the varied ways patients and doctors, men and women have lived with, changed, debated, identified, maintained or ignored inequalities in medicine and public health.

Plenary panelists include:
Vanessa Gamble, University Professor of Medical Humanities and Professor of History, George Washington University
Leslie Reagan, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Susan Reverby, Professor of Women's Studies, Wellesley College
Lundy Braun, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Brown University
Laura Briggs, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, University of Arizona
Natalia Molina, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego

Panels will address six thematic areas, including:
Panel 1: Criminalizing Illness in Cuba and the United States
Panel 2: Race, Reproduction and the Colonial Household
Panel 3: Popular Healing and Professional Medicine in the Spanish and American Empires
Panel 4: Black Health and Healing in Slavery and Freedom
Panel 5: Race and the Production of Medical Knowledge: Transnational and Comparative Approaches
Panel 6: On the Margins: Public Health Campaigns as State Projects

“Making Race, Making Health” has attracted wide support across The University of Texas at Austin. The co-sponsors include:
College of Liberal Arts
Center for Mexican American Studies
Center for Women's and Gender Studies
Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Warfield Center for African and African American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies
Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement
Humanities Institute
Institute for Historical Studies
Gender Symposium

For more information, visit the conference website

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