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Precarious Prescriptions

Contested Histories of Race and Health in North America

2014

Laurie B. Green, John Mckiernan-González, and Martin Summers, Editors

Precarious Prescriptions

Explores the complex relations between the institutions and ideologies of health and people of color in America

Precarious Prescriptions brings together essays that place race, citizenship, and gender at the center of questions about health and disease. Exploring the interplay between disease as a biological phenomenon, illness as a subjective experience, and race as an ideological construct, this volume helps us better understand the long and fraught history of health care in America.

Precarious Prescriptions forges vital new terrain in the study of race, medicine, and public health in the U.S. and its borderlands. The book’s carefully crafted essays explore the relationships between medicine, health, and lived experience in such diverse locales and settings as Hawai’i, pre-revolutionary Texas, the Mexican-American borderlands, and the Salish Sea. By so doing Precarious Prescriptions expands our understandings, not just of medicalized ‘race’ and ‘racisms,’ but of medicine itself, in all of its colonizing and liberatory implications. This is vital reading indeed.

Jonathan M. Metzl, author of The Protest Psychosis

In Precarious Prescriptions, Laurie B. Green, John Mckiernan-González, and Martin Summers bring together essays that place race, citizenship, and gender at the center of questions about health and disease. Exploring the interplay between disease as a biological phenomenon, illness as a subjective experience, and race as an ideological construct, this volume weaves together a complicated history to show the role that health and medicine have played throughout the past in defining the ideal citizen.

By creating an intricate portrait of the close associations of race, medicine, and public health, Precarious Prescriptions helps us better understand the long and fraught history of health care in America.

Contributors: Jason E. Glenn, U of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Mark Allan Goldberg, U of Houston; Jean J. Kim; Gretchen Long, Williams College; Verónica Martínez-Matsuda, Cornell U; Lena McQuade-Salzfass, Sonoma State U; Natalia Molina, U of California, San Diego; Susan M. Reverby, Wellesley College; Jennifer Seltz, Western Washington U.

Precarious Prescriptions

Laurie B. Green is associate professor of history at University of Texas at Austin.

John Mckiernan-González is assistant professor of history at Texas State University.

Martin Summers is associate professor of history and African and African diaspora studies at Boston College.

Precarious Prescriptions

Precarious Prescriptions forges vital new terrain in the study of race, medicine, and public health in the U.S. and its borderlands. The book’s carefully crafted essays explore the relationships between medicine, health, and lived experience in such diverse locales and settings as Hawai’i, pre-revolutionary Texas, the Mexican-American borderlands, and the Salish Sea. By so doing Precarious Prescriptions expands our understandings, not just of medicalized ‘race’ and ‘racisms,’ but of medicine itself, in all of its colonizing and liberatory implications. This is vital reading indeed.

Jonathan M. Metzl, author of The Protest Psychosis

An invaluable contribution to the ongoing study of the intersection of race and health and how agency and subjectivity are (re)created, destroyed, and reclaimed in the interplay of subjugation and resistance.

CHOICE

These essays effectively examine issues of race and health in discourses about mental illness, midwifery, and migrant workers.

Journal of American History

Precarious Prescriptions’ twelve essays demonstrate how race and medicine in North America have shaped each other, in ways both predictable and surprising.

Western Historical Quarterly

This excellent volume collects accessibly written, rich case studies that are enhanced by being read together. It deserves a wide audience.

Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Precarious Prescriptions

Contents

Introduction
Laurie Green, John Mckiernan-González, and Martin Summers

1. Curing the Nation with Cacti: Native Healing and State Building before the Texas Revolution
Mark Allan Goldberg
2. “We Were Promised Medicines”: Health and Illness around the Salish Sea, 1853–1878
Jennifer Seltz
3. “I Studied and Practiced Medicine without Molestation”: African American Doctors in the First Years of Freedom
Gretchen Long
4. At the Nation’s Edge: African American Migrants and Smallpox in the Mexican-American Borderlands
John Mckiernan-González
5. Diagnosing the Ailments of Black Citizenship: African American Physicians and the Dilemma of Mental Illness, 1895–1940
Martin Summers
6. “An Indispensable Service”: Midwives and Medical Officials after New Mexico Statehood
Lena McQuade-Salzfass
7. Professionalizing “Local Girls”: Nursing and U.S. Colonial Rule in Hawai’i, 1920–1948
Jean J. Kim
8. Borders, Laborers, and Racialized Medicalization: Mexican Immigration and U.S. Public Health Practices in the Twentieth Century
Natalia Molina
9. “A Transformation for Migrants”: Mexican Farmworkers and Federal Health Reform During the New Deal Era
Verónica Martínez-Matsuda
10. “Hunger in America” and the Power of Television: Poor People, Physicians, and the Mass Media in the War against Poverty
Laurie B. Green
11. Making Crack Babies: Race Discourse and the Biologization of Behavior
Jason E. Glenn
12. Suffering and Resistance, Voice and Agency: Thoughts on History and the “Tuskegee” Syphilis Study
Susan M. Reverby

Contributors
Index