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Migration and Disease Case Study

Discussion topics and questions

This week, we'll be looking at the relationship between medicine and migration through a case study of one particular contagious disease, commonly associated with immigrants and immigration today (and in the past), but not exclusive to them: tuberculosis. As well as secondary sources, we will be using medical journal articles, and primary source materials gathered from the National Archives in the UK and various US sites to explore the role of medical knowledge, personnel and practices in mediating reponses to immigrants since World War Two. Questions to consider this week include: how important was medical evidence as compared to other factors in influencing governmental policy towards 'imported' disease? Were responses to all 'tubercular' immigrants groups the same? How should we as historians navigate the 'really real' in the social history of medicine?

A packet of primary source readings will be available from my office and in the CHM Hub one week before this session.

Required Readings

Emily K. Abel, ‘From Exclusion to Expulsion: Mexicans and Tuberculosis in Los Angeles, 1914-1940’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 77 (2003): 823-849 SwetsWise

Alison Bashford, “The Great White Plague Turns Alien: Tuberculosis in Australia, 1901-2001” in Flurin Condrau and Michael Worboys (eds), Tuberculosis Then and Now (McGill Queens University Press, 2010).

Flurin Condrau and Michael Worboys, eds, Tuberculosis Then and Now: Perspectives on the History of an Infectious Disease (London: McGill-Queens University Press, 2010)

I Convery, J Welshman, and A Bashford, 'Where is the Border? Screening for Tuberculosis in the United Kingdom and Australia, 1950-2000', in A Bashford (ed), Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization and Security, 1850 to the Present (London, Palgrave, 2006), pp. 97-115

Mark Harrison and Michael Worboys, 'A disease of civilisation: Tuberculosis in Britain, Africa and India, 1900-1939', in Lara Marks and Michael Worboy (eds), Migrants Minorities and Health (London: Routledge, 1997): 93-124.

John Welshman, 'Importation, Deprivation, and Susceptibility: Tuberculosis Narratives in Postwar Britain', in F Condrau and M Worboys (eds), Tuberculosis Then and Now: Perspectives on the History of an Infectious Disease (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), pp. 123-47;

John Welshman, 'Compulsion, Localism, and Pragmatism: The Micro-Politics of Tuberculosis Screening in the United Kingdom, 1950-1965', Social History of Medicine, 16, 2 (2006), 295-312;

Note that several of the most relevant essays in TB Then and Now are also available in only marginally different forms as journal articles via ResearchPro.

Background Readings

Emily K. Abel, Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion: A History of Public Health and Migration to Los Angeles, (Rutgers: New Brunswick 2007)

Charles T. Adeyanju, Nicole Neverson, “There Will Be a Next Time”: Media Discourse about an “Apocalyptic” Vision of Immigration, Racial Diversity, and Health Risks Canadian Ethnic Studies, 2007; Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 79-105 Database: Project Muse

W.I Ahmad, ed., ‘Race’ and Health in Contemporary Britain (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1993).

Alison Bashford, ed., Medicine at the Border: Disease, globalization and security, 1850 to the present (London and New York: Palgrave, 2006).

Alison Bashford, Imperial Hygiene: a critical history of colonialism, nationalism and public health (London and New York: Palgrave, 2004).

Daniel E. Bender, Inspecting Workers: Medical Examination, Labor Organizing, and the Evidence of Sexual Difference 51-75 Radical History Review 80 (2001) 51-75 Database: Project Muse

Lundy Braun, Spirometry, Measurement, and Race in the Nineteenth Century Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, April 2005; Vol. 60, No. 2, pp. 135-169.

Linda Bryder, "A Health Resort for Consumptives": Tuberculosis and Immigration to New Zealand, 1880--1914 Medical history, 1996; Vol. 40, No. 4, p. 453

Linda Bryder, Below the Magic Mountain: A Social History of Tuberculosis in 20th century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)

J. David Cisneros, Contaminated Communities: The Metaphor of "Immigrant as Pollutant" in Media Representations of Immigration Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Winter 2008; Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 569-601 Database: Project Muse

R. Dubos and J. Dubos, The White Plague: Tuberculosis, Man and Society (1953)

Matthew Gandy, M and Alimuddin Zumla, The Return of the White Plague: Global Poverty and the 'New' Tuberculosis London and New YorkVerso 2003)

Anne Hardy, ‘Reframing Disease: Changing Perceptions of Tuberculosis in England and Wales, 1938-70’, Historical Research 76:149 (November 2003), 535-556

Panikos Panayi, Middlesbrough 1961: A British Race Riot of the 1960s? Social History, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May, 1991), pp. 139-153 JSTOR

Sheila M. Rothman, Living in the Shadow of Death: Tuberculosis and the social experience of illness in American history New York, BasicBooks, 1994).

F.D. Smith, The Retreat of Tuberculosis 1850-1950 (1988)

Nancy Tomes, Epidemic Entertainments: Disease and Popular Culture in Early-Twentieth-Century America American Literary History, Winter 2002; Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 625-652.

Nancy Tomes, Gospel of Germs: Men, Women and the Microbe in American Life, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998) esp. Chapter 5

John Welshman, A Bashford, 'Tuberculosis, Migration, and Medical Examination: Lessons from History', Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60 (2006), 282-4;

John Welshman, 'Tuberculosis, "Race", and Migration, 1950-70', Medical Historian: Bulletin of Liverpool Medical History Society, 15 (2003-04), 36-53;

John Welshman, 'Tuberculosis and Ethnicity in England and Wales, 1950-70', Sociology of Health & Illness, 26, 6 (2000), 858-82;

Primary sources

Susan T. Cookson Misconceptions About Tuberculosis Among Immigrants To The United States BMJ: British Medical Journal, Jun 24, 2000; Vol. 320, No. 7251, p. 1726-1727 Database: JSTOR


Joann M. Schulte; Sarah E. Valway; Eugene McCray; Ida M. Onorato, Tuberculosis Cases Reported Among Migrant Farm Workers in the United States, 1993-97 Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, August 2001; Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 311-322 Database: Project Muse

V.H Springett, J.C.S Adams, T.B. D’Costa, and M. Hemming, ‘Tuberculosis in Immigrants in Birmingham, 1956-1957’, British Journal of Preventive Social Medicine 12 (1958) 135-140