Understanding My Past after #MeToo

For some, #MeToo and #TimesUp mark political correctness run amok. Some scoff that women don’t know the difference between a bad date and assault, drawing a sharp divide between critics of the movement and women who are demanding that we reclaim our voices in the face of a wide array of abuses. While not all… Read more →

Dying to Heal: Women and Syphilis in Colonial Lima, Peru

In the early modern world, syphilis victims suffered through four stages of disease over a ten- to thirty-year time span. The first two phases manifested on the skin, beginning with painless ulcers near the site of infection (usually the genitals or mouth), which progressed to blotchy, red rashes on the palms of the hands and… Read more →

“Shock from Loss”: The Reality of Grief in the First World War

On October 24, 1918, fifty-eight-year-old Elizabeth was admitted to the City of London Mental Hospital by her husband.1 He stated that she had been suffering for the past fourteen months with “shock from loss of her two sons in the War.”2 He further explained that her younger son had been killed in action, and her… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Titillating toes. Guns in the family. Gender roles, not Jell-O rolls. A history of pseudo-profanity. Desexing the Kinsey Institute. Make every class sex ed class. Power dressing: a feminist history. A 1925 version of “men are trash.” A world of food history goes digital…. Read more →

Mary Seacole: Disease and Care of the Wounded, from Jamaica to the Crimea

While Florence Nightingale is legendary in the history of nursing because of her foundational role in the creation of Western healthcare systems, she was not the only important woman in this history. It is perhaps unsurprising that the white, English-born, Nightingale’s contribution to modern nursing eclipses that of her contemporary, Mary Seacole, a mixed-race Jamaican… Read more →

Canned Food History: A Conversation with Anna Zeide

Recently, I had my students in Food in American Society and Culture try their hand at drafting dietary guidelines. While every group recommended consuming fruits and vegetables, one group specifically called out “fresh and frozen, not canned.” Their dismissal of canned fruit and veg caught my attention as I was at the time reading a… Read more →

#MarielleFrancoPresente

On the evening of Wednesday, March 14, Marielle Franco — the thirty-eight-year-old human-rights activist, feminist, anti-racist organizer, and recently-elected city councilwoman — went to an event on young black women and organizing (“Jovens Negras Movendo as Estruturas”) in the central Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.1 At around 9 pm, Marielle left the meeting…. Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Disasters have histories. A brief history of gay theater. The controversial Sister Serpents. Nasty women, meet gobby women. How social media spread a historical lie. “For decades, our coverage was racist.” The ten women of the FBI’s most wanted. The whitewashing of King’s assassination…. Read more →

The Politics of Sobreparto: Beyond the Medical Dimensions of a Postpartum Condition

Migrant indigenous Andean women living in the lowland Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra often mention sobreparto (“following birth”) among the dangerous consequences of pregnancy. This condition occurs after delivery and manifests with cold chills, fever, and general weakness. If it’s left untreated, it can even lead to death. Some of the most… Read more →

What Would Philippe Pinel Do? Old and New Understandings of Mental Illness

I was intrigued when, on February 1, 2018, I heard the journalist and author Johann Hari on Democracy Now! talking about his most recent book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions. In this book, Hari argued that the primary cause of “rising depression and anxiety is not in our heads.”… Read more →