Nic John Ramos

Assistant Professor, History of Medicine, Drexel University

2021 to 2022
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow

Policing Health: Making Race, Sexuality, and Poverty Productive in Global Los Angeles, 1965-1986

My book manuscript, Policing Health, investigates a Los Angeles County Hospital and Black-led medical school called King-Drew Medical Center built as a response to the 1965 Watts Uprisings. The center played a formative role in disseminating and deploying strategies to manage the health of the medically indigent and poor by piloting the first federally funded neighborhood health clinics, community mental health centers, and emergency medical systems in the nation. The book manuscript argues this suite of public health institutions continued to police the intersections of race and sexuality of poor people of color despite the fact these new health institutions were designed to forward and balance the liberal aims of civil, women’s, welfare, disability, and gay rights movements. Especially after shifts in global finance manifested in new and longer-lasting patterns of worklessness, working poverty, and undocumented immigration in South Los Angeles, my research shows post 1960s public health institutions developed interlocking relationships with public safety institutions such as police, prisons, and state hospitals that created new spatial boundaries of segregation and revitalized aggressive policing of poor and queer people of color.