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Posts by Adam Turner

Pub Quiz #1: Ye Olde America

By Adam Turner
Welcome to the inaugural Nursing Clio Pub Quiz, the "Ye Olde America" edition. I just finished teaching a four-week summer course on US women's history to 1870, which left my head buzzing with little facts and historical anecdotes about women in colonial America and the early republic. Being a fan of trivia (and a bit of a nerd) I decided the perfect outlet for these snippets of the past would be a blog version of the venerable pub quiz. Let's see how you do! (No Wikipedia peeking, folks.) Good luck!

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Paranoia on the Border: Immigration and Public Health

By Adam Turner

Like others, I find the growing humanitarian crisis in Texas deeply troubling. The number of minors making this dangerous journey alone, in search of a better life away from violence and poverty, is overwhelming and heart-wrenching, not least because they've been met with more hostility than sympathy at the US end of their long trek. The vitriol with which anti-immigration protesters have met these children and adolescents is both disturbing and nationally embarrassing. I don't dispute anybody's right to disagree over immigration policy, but I don't believe that the privilege of having been born in the United States entitles anybody to aggressively refuse assistance to children so obviously in crisis. I don't intend to discuss the merits of one solution over another here, though. Instead, I want to highlight the particularly worrisome -- but sadly familiar -- paranoia about these refugees bringing disease into US border communities.

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A History of Neglect

By Adam Turner

Since as far back as the American Revolution, politicians and the public have welcomed soldiers home from war with promises of cutting edge medical knowledge, comprehensive rehabilitation, and ongoing care as compensation for their service. Just as often, though, these promises have gone unfulfilled in the face of their enormous expense. The history of the veteran's health system thus has been one of best intentions and poor funding.

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Adventures in the Archives: The Living Past

By Adam Turner

The stereotype of historians isolated in archives with dusty papers and dim lighting has more than a grain of truth to it. Granted, my archive experiences have been more ice cold and brightly lit than dank, but the isolation can be striking. I've spent entire days immersed more in the past than in the world around me. History work can be lonely and leave you feeling cut off from the present. This can actually be useful when it means closer connection with historical actors and their worlds. But you run the risk of getting cut off from everything -- both the past and the present -- during the at-times mind-numbing search for that single piece of valuable evidence within reams of irrelevant material.

After hours of paging through letters, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles unrelated to my own project, I start seeing paper rather than people. At these times, it is easy to forget that the "useless" sources are snippets of people's lives. Even if only momentarily, they intersected with the lives of one or many individuals -- people with full, rich lives outside of my own area of research interest. Because zoning out like this over so many scraps of paper can be such an issue, it's both welcoming and jarring when a source wrenches me out of that funk: when it forces me to come face-to-face with the lived experience of the past.

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The Paralympics, Past and Present

By: Adam Turner

The Paralympics originated in Britain as a venue for people wounded in World War II to compete. Today, the Paralympic Games is one of the largest sporting events in the world. It provides an avenue for people of different physical and developmental types to compete on the world stage in a way they were never allowed to before. Like the Olympics, it celebrates friendly competition, teamwork, determination, and athletic accomplishment. The history of the Paralympics, however, reveals a far more complex picture, fraught with political, social, and even medical tensions. For many years, the Paralympics has received little media attention and poor funding. What little coverage it has gotten often reinforces stereotypes about disability as a personal tragedy to be "overcome" rather than highlighting ability and athleticism.

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No Pies, No Spectacles, No Preaching to Women Alone

by Adam Turner

Even without the festive march of holidays this time of year, these colder (and, here in the US Pacific Northwest, wetter) months put me in a baking frame of mind. Short days, wool socks, and an overtaxed heater seem to call out for some family traditionals -- nisu and an orange-chocolate-chip bread that's practically cake -- and sends me looking for newcomers like these peppermint cream squares. I could joyously do without the barrage of "Little Drummer Boy" covers, but tolerate even the most saccharine of Christmas tunes for the sake of winter cakes, pies, pastries, and cookies.

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Sex and Disability, Part 2

By Adam Turner

This is the second post in a two-part reflection on some of the issues raised by a September BBC news story, Judge Approves Man's Sterilisation in Legal First. (See part one for a synopsis of the story.) In part one I listed three reasons why people often believe adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) should not have sex or sometimes even be in romantic relationships. I discussed number one in part one, and will now look at numbers two and three.

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Sex and Disability, Part 1

By Adam Turner

In September, BBC news ran a story titled, Judge Approves Man's Sterilisation in Legal First. I started reading the story expecting a familiar case of medical authority and restrictive assumptions of what is and isn't normal leading to surgical intervention. Not so. At least not exactly. Partway through the first few paragraphs of the news report I knew this story was much more complicated than I had imagined.

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Reflections: A Conference on Children and “Imperfection”

By Adam Turner

Over the past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the Centre for Medical Humanities Imperfect Children conference at the University of Leicester. The conference included a wonderful mix of disciplines and both historical and present-day perspectives on the concept of "imperfection" and children. This usefully provocative focus led to an ongoing discussion during the two-day meeting about the definition of imperfection and how it relates to concepts like normality, health, and ability.

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A Historian’s Guide to Summer: Back-to-School Mixtape

By Adam Turner

Here in the Pacific Northwest the days are long and hot and the raspberries are ripening, which means that a new school year is upon us. For teachers, it's time to set aside the summer projects, chapters, and books, make a late-summer beverage, and think about teaching. In the interest of celebrating the end of summer, here are some songs that work well in the classroom.

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