Tag: medicine

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 →

Mothers’ Natures: Sex, Love, and Degeneration in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Every so often, some viral article or other will declare that science “proves” or “confirms” that intelligence is inherited from mothers. (I know, because my own mother will promptly share it on Facebook.) Swiftly, of course, revisionary articles will appear correcting or debunking this claim, chastising armchair geneticists for their overly-simplistic understandings of the X-chromosome…. Read more →

The Eye at War: American Eye Prosthetics During the World Wars

In December 1943 Colonel Derrick Vail, ophthalmologist and consultant to the Army Medical Department in Europe, wrote in a memo: “There is a critical shortage of artificial eye supply.”1 Vail was referring to the shortage of optical glass traditionally used in the manufacture of prosthetic eyes in wartime. During the Second World War the United… Read more →

Renée Zellweger, Isabelle Dinoire, and the Stakes for Changing the Face

On October 20, 2014, Renée Zellweger attended the Elle Women in Hollywood event, her first appearance in the public eye after a long hiatus. She looked different; people do, over time. Most people do; some work very hard to continue to look exactly the same. Zellweger’s face was exhaustively discussed, dissected, and criticized in the… Read more →