Medicine, Disease, and Disability in the Twentieth-Century United States.

Friday 3rd September 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the social, political, cultural, and economic consequences of infectious disease control, shined a spotlight on the stark inequalities nurtured by US healthcare, and raised new questions that scholars will be grappling with for years to come. As historians adapt to this new context, this conference will provide a venue for postgraduate students and early career scholars to discuss the historical intersections between health, disability, state regulation, racialisation, and socioeconomic inequalities. 

In the 20th century, the US experienced medical institution-building on an unprecedented scale with the continued professionalisation of medicine, expansion of hospitals, and growth of the health insurance industry. It was a period where the effects of ableism, homophobia, racism, and sexism were evident in events including eugenic law-making, the Tuskegee Study, the response to the AIDS crisis, and construction of social welfare systems. And in turn, activists have challenged medical ideologies and institutions in efforts to forge more equitable healthcare.

This year’s annual postgraduate and early career conference will be a one-day virtual event where participants circulate a paper of 2,000 words (approx.) before the conference. On the day, participants will deliver a brief introduction, followed by an online question-and-answer session about their work. Paper/panel topics may include, but are not limited to:

●      Eugenics in US history

●      Global and public health

●      Healthcare activism

●      Histories of care work

●      Histories of disability and rights movements

●      Medical personnel and institutions

●      Public policy and private healthcare 

●      Race, racism, and healthcare

●      Reproductive politics 

●      The place of HIV and AIDS in the history of medicine 

HOTCUS invites proposals for papers from postgraduate and early career researchers exploring topics related to the conference theme. Submissions should include a 300-word outline of your paper, along with a one-page CV.

Proposals should be submitted to hotcuspostgrads@gmail.com. The deadline for submission is Friday 18th June 2021. For more information or any queries, please contact Lizzie Evens (elizabeth.evens.18@ucl.ac.uk).

We would also like to host a discussion centring PhD student experiences of mental health, caring, and disability. If this is something you would be interested in and/or would like to contribute to, please email Lizzie.