The New York Academy of Medicine announces the third lecture in its mini-series, "Race, Ethnicity, and Health in Twentieth-Century America"
PULLING THE TEETH OF THE TROPICS:
DISEASE, RACE, AND NATURE DURING THE AMERICAN CONSTRUCTION OF THE PANAMA CANAL
PAUL SUTTER, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Tuesday, April 12, 2005, 6:00 PM
During the construction of the Panama Canal (1904 1914), a number of Anglo American ideas about the "tropics" shaped the Americans' approach to disease management and public health administration in Panama. This talk, the third in NYAM's series on "Race, Ethnicity, and Health in Twentieth-Century America," will focus how racial and environmental thinking intersected in American sanitary policy. For example, American officials recruited black West Indian and, to a lesser extent, southern European workers because they thought them better suited racially to working in Panama's tropical climate and dealing with its tropical fevers, malaria and yellow fever. Similarly, American officials focused the bulk of their energy on maladies that affected white outsiders (maladies that were thus deemed "tropical"), while ignoring or downplaying other illnesses, such as pneumonia and TB, that affected the predominantly black workforce. Finally, and not surprisingly, such policies resulted in a white American workforce substantially healthier than its non-white counterpart. By 1915, the Americans could claim that they had "pulled the teeth of the tropics"-that they had made a small zone on the Panamanian isthmus as healthy as most of the temperate United States; but their achievement was less a universal public health breakthrough than it was an object lesson in how to make tropical imperial administration healthy for white outsiders.
Paul S. Sutter is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Georgia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He is the author of Driven Wild: How the Fight Against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement. This lecture is drawn from his next book length project, tentatively titled "Pulling the Teeth of the Tropics: Environment, Disease, Race, and the U.S. Sanitary Program in Panama, 1904 1914."
This event is open to the public, and is sponsored in part by the New York Council for the Humanities.
"Race, Ethnicity, and Health in Twentieth-Century America" explores the contrasts in health conditions across racial and ethic lines--past and present, as well as the experience of immigrant medical professionals, and the geopolitics of race, health and empire.
The final lecture in the series is:
Thursday, April 21
The John K. Lattimer Lecture
Howard Markel MD, Ph.D, University of Michigan
"When Germs Travel: Epidemics and Immigrants in the 20th Century"
The series concludes with an examination of America's current attempts to isolate ourselves from "immigrant microbes," and a suggestion for a globally-funded public health program that could stop the spread of epidemics, help eradicate certain diseases, and protect us all.
These events are free and open to the public. For more information about NYAM programs in the history of medicine, visit our website at http://www.nyam.org/initiatives/im-histe.shtml , write firstname.lastname@example.org or call Christian Warren at the phone number provided below.
Acknowledgment: We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Academy's Rare Book Room was recently featured in the New York Times. To read a press release, with a link to the article, visit http://www.nyam.org/news/2258.html .
Historical programs at NYAM are supported by the Friends of the Rare Book Room. Please join the Friends! Download a membership form at http://www.nyam.org/initiatives/docs/FRBR_Renewal.pdf .
THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE 1216 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10029
Christian Warren, Ph.D.
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Fax: 212-423-0273 Email: email@example.com Visit the website at http://nyam.org
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