Tag: medicine

When Did We Get So Hormonal? An Interview with Randi Hutter Epstein

Randi Hutter Epstein’s new book, Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything, traces the development of our scientific and medical understanding of hormones from the late nineteenth century to the present. Each chapter focuses on a different hormone, linking the science of endocrinology to fascinating details about the social context that… Read more →

The Dangerous Price of Diabetes: Not What the Pioneering Researchers Predicted

The 1921 discovery of insulin ushered in a new era in endocrinology. Canadian researchers transformed diabetes from certain death sentence to chronic illness, infusing hormone researchers and doctors with giddy optimism. Doctors soon thought that every hormone ailment would be reversed. All that was needed was to mimic what the University of Toronto team did… Read more →

How To Cook and Cure: Early Modern Recetas

Recipes can quickly transport us to particular times and places. A glance at this vintage Jell-O recipe calls to mind the model 1960s US housewife and the gendered obligations of food and preparation. Women’s relationship to recipes are taken up in a less widely-known context in British artist George Cruikshank’s nineteenth-century etching with watercolors. Titled,… Read more →

Lizards and the Idea of Mexico

In the summer of 1782, Don Juan de Luna, a respected elder citizen of the City of Mexico, nearly choked on a lagartija, a lizard, when he ate it to ease the throbbing tumor on his tongue. The details are foggy, but he likely followed the protocol established by his medical counsel, the celebrated physicist,… Read more →

New Medical Tourism on St. Kitts

The late William Halford of Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine spent his life developing what Hollywood director Agustín Fernández called a herpes “miracle treatment.” Theravax is an experimental herpes vaccine that, in 2013, Halford began testing both on himself and on friends, family, and volunteers. Inside hotel rooms across Illinois, Harford injected Theravax into… Read more →

Remembering the Mothers of Gynecology: Deirdre Cooper Owens’ Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology

Antebellum physician James Marion Sims has been in the news quite a bit lately as a target of activism. After the Charlottesville white supremacist rallies, efforts to take down Confederate monuments have spread across the country, and those efforts have included statues of James Marion Sims. Sims is known for developing a successful technique for… 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 →

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 →

Health Care in Colonial Peruvian Convents

Last May I had the opportunity to conduct archival research in Arequipa, Peru. I went in search of fodder for my new research project on health and healing in colonial Latin American convents. I was not disappointed because not only did I find a bundle of fascinating documents, but I also got to ramble the… Read more →

My Experiences with Auto-Immunity and Why I Dislike the Term “Able-Bodied”

I dislike the term “able-bodied.” I see this term used frequently in academic and activist scholarship, as well as everyday language, often without giving the term its due scrutiny. As an academic who studies structural inequalities based on race, gender, and disability, I find that it assumes a binary system structured on ableist ideas. It… Read more →