Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Children in the asylum. The origin of monsters. The history of Ouija boards. Save the pub or safeguard health? Unpregnancy and Arctic exploration. The early days of America’s AIDS crisis. Formaldehyde in milk and lead in cheese. When pop-up books taught popular science. Homefront… Read more →

Miscarriage and Memory-Making: An Uneasy Relationship

When the Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman wrote about her miscarriage in early 2017, many readers praised the fact that this common, yet woefully misunderstood experience had been so candidly aired. Miscarriages do not elicit the type of kindly curiosity that ‘successful’ reproductive experiences often do, such as the pregnancy revelation, the swelling bump, or the… Read more →

Dutch Monuments for Stillborn Children

“He has been dumped.” Mrs. van Melsen tells me these words as we look down at the inscription on the monument at the graveyard near Sint Pieter’s church in the Dutch city of Maastricht that reads: “Silenced indeed, but never forgotten.” And then Mrs. van Melsen tells me the story of the stillbirth of her… Read more →

The Heifer and Its Lymph: The Animal Vaccine Establishment’s Register Book

Few people I know like working at the UK National Archives. They find it too impersonal, too frigid, too strict. But since I first worked there in July 2014, it has become my archival home. The place is dependable — you can always find silence in the reading rooms, good espresso in the ground-floor café,… Read more →

Reproductive Justice and Midwifery on the US-Mexico Border

On August 29th, Kevin Sieff of the Washington Post published an article about the citizenship status of Americans born near the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Sieff, the State Department has been denying U.S. citizens passports, citing citizenship fraud via forged birth certificates certified by (likely) Mexican American midwives in rural areas of the Southwest. Following… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news A diet for old age. The sensory history of pine. 9 cold remedies from history. The Texas archives war of 1842. A Viking, a sheep, and climate change. Sugar castles and suckling pig arches. Why I wanted to learn to perform abortions. Donald Duck:… Read more →

When Pain is Political: Paulette Nardal and Black Women’s Citizenship in the French Empire

October 12 marks the 122nd anniversary of the birth of Martinican writer and intellectual Paulette Nardal. It also marks 79 years since Nardal survived one of the first maritime attacks of World War II. She was travelling from the then-French colony of Martinique to Paris when her ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Her… Read more →

The Gendered Dynamics of Miscarriage

  I was sitting in a small meeting room in the Olympic Village at Squaw Valley for a writers’ workshop. There were thirteen people in our group, eleven women and two men. For a week, we took turns reading and critiquing each other’s nonfiction work, and on this day, my essay on my wife’s recent… Read more →

Mothers of Monsters

I am looking at an infant boy suspended in a jar of liquid. The preservative fluid has kept the boy’s body looking much as it did when he was born over two hundred years ago here in Amsterdam. The crown of his head protrudes upward several inches, giving his head an odd shape and swollen… Read more →

The Privilege of Despair

A preternatural calm settled over me on Saturday afternoon as I heard the news of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. I wasn’t reconciled to the outcome; my calm did not come from satisfaction. Instead, it came from the awful confirmation of a different kind — that the United States was still the white… Read more →