Social History of Race, Health, and Environment

This working group aims to create new avenues of inquiry in the history of medicine by focusing on the social and material aspects of health among a host of past peoples globally. This group focuses on the health experiences of subaltern or racialized groups.
The group meets on the second Friday of every month, from 4:00 to 5:30 PM Eastern time.

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Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

  • Friday, February 11, 2022 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EST

    Juliet C. Larkin-Gilmore (ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow, 2021–22, American Council of Learned Societies), title TBA
    Comment by Maria John, Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Friday, March 11, 2022 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EST

    Maria John (Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Boston), title TBA
    Comment by TBA

  • Friday, April 8, 2022 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm EDT

    Ángel Rodríguez (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School), “Ecology of Scientific Expeditions: A Harvard History of the Health and Human Sciences in the American Tropics, 1892–1937”
    Comment by TBA

Past Meetings

  • December 10, 2021

    Elise A. Mitchell (Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow, History Department, Princeton University), "Medicine and Slavery in Early Caribbean Newspaper Advertisements"
    Comment by Rana A. Hogarth, Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

  • November 12, 2021

    Preston McBride (Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities and the University of the Future, University of Southern California), “Tuberculosis at Chemawa: Morbidity and Mortality in a U.S. Boarding School for Native Americans, 1880-1910”
    Comment by Christian W. McMillen, Professor of History and Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, University of Virginia

  • September 10, 2021

    Meghan K. Roberts (Associate Professor of History, Bowdoin College), "Making Race and Reputations in the Age of Enlightenment"
    Comment by Suman Seth, Marie Underhill Noll Professor of the History of Science, Cornell University

  • August 13, 2021

    Sean Morey Smith (Postdoctoral Project Manager, Rice University Humanities Research Center), "The Rush to Race: Benjamin Rush and Climatic-Racial Arguments against Slavery"
    Comment by Eric Herschthal, Assistant Professor of History, University of Utah

  • April 9, 2021

    Jessica Hauger (PhD candidate in History, Duke University), "Smallpox and Sovereignty: The Politics of Contagion in Indian Territory, 1898-1901”
    Comment by Juliet Larkin-Gilmore, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Program in American Indian Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • March 12, 2021

    Ian Read (Associate Professor of Latin American Studies, Director of International Studies, Soka University of America), "Racial Fevers: Yellow Fever, Race, and Climate in Brazilian History."  
    Comment by Urmi Engineer Willoughby, Assistant Professor of History, Pitzer College

  • February 12, 2021

    Farren E. Yero (Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Duke University), “Caribbean Crucible: Smallpox, Safety, and the Ethics of Risk”
    Comment by Kristen Block, Associate Professor of History, and Program Director, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Tennessee

  • January 8, 2021

    Welcome to the Social History of Race, Health, and Environment working group! Our first meeting will be an informal, get-to-know-you session with a brief discussion of (the introductions to) two seminal works of the past decade, J. R. McNeill’s Mosquito Empires (2010) and Deirdre Cooper Owens’s Medical Bondage (2017).

Group Conveners

  • seth.archer's picture

    Seth Archer

    Seth Archer is Assistant Professor of History at Utah State University where he teaches early America and the nineteenth-century U.S., Native America, environmental history, and the history of health, disease, and medicine. From 2015 to 2017 he was the Mellon Research Fellow in American History at the University of Cambridge. His first book is Sharks upon the Land: Colonialism, Indigenous Health, and Culture in Hawaiʻi, 1778–1855 (Cambridge University Press, 2018), which won the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association.


  • asali4040's picture

    Rana Hogarth

    Rana Hogarth is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on the medical and scientific constructions of race during the era of slavery and beyond. Her first book, Medicalizing Blackness: Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2017. In it, she examines how white physicians “medicalized” blackness—a term she uses to describe the process by which white physicians defined blackness as a medically significant marker of difference in slave societies of the American Atlantic. She is at work on her second book, which takes up the question of how Black people, and mixed race people with Black and white ancestry, became targeted by white eugenicists for study in the early decades of the twentieth century.


  • cdwillou's picture

    Christopher Willoughby

    Christopher D. E. Willoughby is a Junior Visiting Fellow in the Center for Humanities and Information at The Pennsylvania State University. His research examines the history of racial science and medical education in the United States and Atlantic World, as well as having additional interests in the social history of disease and occupational health. With Sean Morey Smith, he is the editor of the forthcoming volume Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery (Louisiana State University Press) and is completing a monograph entitled Masters of Health: Racial Science and Slavery in American Medical Schools, which is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.


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