Cassia Roth

All My Babies and Black Midwifery: An Interview with Wangui Muigai

Wangui Muigai is the winner of the inaugural Nursing Clio Best Journal Article Prize for “‘Something Wasn’t Clean’: Black Midwifery, Birth, and Postwar Medical Education in All My Babies,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 93, no. 1 (2019), 82–113. An assistant professor of history and African and African American studies at Brandeis University,… Read more →

Portraying Abortion in Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Film and TV portrayals of abortion in the last decade have become both more prevalent and complex. Take the different abortion storylines over the course of HBO’s series Girls (love it or hate it). In Season 1’s “Vagina Panic,” Jessa is scheduled to have an abortion when she conveniently has her “period” in a bar’s… Read more →

The Slow Moon Climbs: Talking Menopause with Susan Mattern

Recently, I heard an interview with TV anchor Gayle King on the NPR show On Point about her career as a journalist, her recent interview with R. Kelly, and her experience working in a visual field while aging. One caller mentioned the “menopause pooch,” and congratulated King for redefining what a TV anchor looks like. In… Read more →

A Miscarriage of Justice

My book, A Miscarriage of Justice: Women’s Reproductive Lives and the Law in Early Twentieth-Century Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2020), begins and ends with the story of twenty-nine-year-old Isalina Vieira, a Brazilian woman living in the country’s capital of Rio de Janeiro. One October morning in 1912, Vieira went into labor. She called her female… Read more →

Najila and Neymar; or, The Normalization of Violence against Women in Brazil

You may have heard of Neymar, Brazil’s soccer darling.1 With the speed and skill to rival the all-time greats, he’s been on the international scene for almost a decade, leading his team in two World Cups and clinching an Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But he’s also faced intense criticism from… Read more →

The (Historical) Body in Pain

For the last decade, I’ve been reading and writing about other women’s pain. Contractions lasting 72 hours. Feverish deliriums after a punctured uterus. A woman beaten with a tree branch. I study the history of gender and medicine, and my book manuscript examines the parallel processes of the medicalization of childbirth and the criminalization of… Read more →

Up in Flames: The Death of Brazil’s Museu Nacional

What do you do when your archive burns down? That’s a question that I, as well as thousands of researchers in Brazil and across the globe, faced on Sunday, September 2, when Brazil’s Museu Nacional (National Museum) in Rio de Janeiro went up in flames. The largest national history museum in Latin America, the Museu’s… Read more →

After the Mosquitoes Went Away: A Review of Debora Diniz’s Zika

In April 2015, Géssica Eduardo dos Santos — a Brazilian woman who lived in Juarezinho, a small town in the interior of the northeastern state of Paraíba — became pregnant for a second time. Géssica already had a young daughter, and this time she and her husband Silvandro da Silva Lima were hoping for a… Read more →

Joan Scott, Liberalism, and Abortion Rights

Recently, the University of Edinburgh awarded Joan Scott an honorary doctorate in social science. The hooding ceremony seemed more like a Catholic wedding than an intellectual honor — replete with scepters, somber music, and long robes (the British do like their hierarchy). I attended, of course, not for the solemn ceremony, but for the lecture… 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 →