March 5, 2021
Nic John Ramos, assistant professor in the Department of History and the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel University, examines the development of medical expertise and health protocol in new public health institutions. He investigates neighborhood clinics, community mental health centers and emergency medical systems nationally piloted in a Los Angeles County hospital and Black-led Medical School built as a response to the 1965 Watts Uprising/Riots called King-Drew Medical Center. Ramos argues that by the 1980s, this suite of health institutions functioned with enlarged police outfits, new patterns of spatial segregation and more highly securitized state hospitals to manage worklessness, undocumented immigration and working poverty resulting from post 1960s global economic restructuring. His reading of archival documents reveals politicians, medical experts and health policy makers mobilized discourses of health and moral uplift embedded in the racial and sexual liberalism of 1960s and 1970s social movements to reform the supposed “backwards” sexuality, reproductive politics and “culture” of LGBT, undocumented and poor people of color. As an urban “safety net” for the medically indigent, these public health institutions renewed policing of LGBT, undocumented and poor Black and Brown people while buffeting profitable health markets outside “medically underserved areas” from collapse.
Prior to arriving at Drexel, Ramos was the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of Race in Science and Medicine at Brown University and received his doctorate in American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His research is broadly interested in the historical and spatial intersections of race, sexuality, medicine and capitalism. His published work can be found in American Quarterly, the Journal of History of Medicine and Allied Sciences and GLQ.
This event is co-sponsored by the Science, Technology and Society Program at The Claremont Colleges and Stanford University Libraries