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Discussing Race, Settler Colonialism, and Healthcare in the Age of COVID-19

February 25, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

A Preview Interview with Dr. Maria K. John

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed major, sometimes fatal shortcomings in the U.S. healthcare system. Through a conversation about the recent history of healthcare, historians George Aumoithe and Maria K. John will shed light on today’s crisis.

They will discuss what the history of healthcare policy can teach us about hospital capacity and epidemic preparedness in the twenty-first century, and explore how Indigenous, Black, and Latinx communities’ disproportionate exposure to COVID-19 infection and death reflect deeper histories of settler colonialism and racial discrimination. This conversation will also recover forgotten alternatives for a more just system.

George Aumoithe is Assistant Professor of Global Health at Stony Brook University and director of the Global Health and Health Inequality Mapping Lab in Africana Studies. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2018 and completed postdoctoral training in legal history at Princeton University in 2020. Dr. Aumoithe’s research interests engage problems in political economy, social welfare policy, public health, curative medicine, and epidemic preparedness. He is currently completing a book manuscript tentatively titled Medical Scarcity: The Political Economy of Healthcare Rights in America, which examines the effect of anti-inflationary economic policy and colorblind legal ideology on public hospitals.

Maria K. John is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she is also director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Program. She received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University and was an Indigenous Studies Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the American Studies Department at Wesleyan University from 2016-2017. Her research focuses on 20th-century Indigenous politics in the U.S. and Australia, with a focus on urban communities and health activism. Her book project, Sovereign Bodies: Urban Indigenous Health Activism in the United States and Australia, 1950-2000, is a comparative history of urban Indigenous community-controlled health clinics in the U.S. and Australia.

Moderator: Amy Zanoni is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Presidential History, where she researches histories of social welfare, health care politics, social movements, and political economy in the United States. Her book manuscript, Poor Health: Retrenchment, Resistance, and the Safety Net Below the Safety Net, examines how the public hospital functioned as a critical arena of healthcare provision and politics in the late twentieth century. Zanoni received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2020.

Further Reading

Here, you’ll find more resources to feed your interest in the topics covered at this event.

Aumoithe, G. 2017. Epidemic Preparedness in the Age of Chronic Illness: Public Health and Welfare in the United States, 1965-2000.Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Retrieved March 4, 2021 fromhttps://www.chstm.org/news/epidemic-preparedness-age-chronic-illness-public-health-and-welfare-united-states-1965-2000 

Aumoithe, G. (2020). The racist history that explains why some communities don’t have enough ICU beds. The Washington Post.Retrieved March 4, 2021 fromhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/16/racist-history-that-explains-why-some-communities-dont-have-enough-icu-beds/ 

John, M. 2020. The Violence of Abandonment: Urban Indigenous Health and the Settler-Colonial Politics of Nonrecognition in the United States and Australia. Native American and Indigenous Studies, 7(1), 87-120. Retrieved March 4, 2021 fromhttps://muse.jhu.edu/article/761808 

Hoffman, B. 2012. Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States Since the 1930s. University of Chicago Press. 



February 25, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category: