New Book: Comrades in Health

Comrades in Health: U.S. Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home

Since the early twentieth century, politically engaged and socially
committed U.S. health professionals have worked in solidarity with
progressive movements around the world. Often with roots in social
medicine, political activism, and international socialism, these
doctors, nurses, and other health workers became comrades who joined
forces with people struggling for social justice, equity, and the
right to health.

Anne-Emanuelle Birn and Theodore M. Brown bring together a group of
professionals and activists whose lives have been dedicated to health
internationalism. By presenting a combination of historical accounts
and first-hand reflections, this collection of essays aims to draw
attention to the longstanding international activities of the American
health left and the lessons they brought home. The involvement of
these progressive U.S. health professionals is presented against the
background of foreign and domestic policy, social movements, and
global politics.

Praise quotes:
“Everybody who cares about health and social justice, internationally
and in the U.S., should read this book!”
–Amy Goodman host of Democracy Now! and 2008 winner Right Livelihood Award

“This wonderful book offers a deeply reflective look at the
motivations, ideology, and outcomes of this critical work, telling the
stories of true heroes and heroines of American medicine and public
health. It is must reading for anyone contemplating international
health activism today.”
–Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler cofounders,
Physicians for a National Health Program

“Comrades in Health is a pioneering effort, a major addition to the
study of global public health, and a new perspective on U.S. domestic
health policy.”
–Gerald M. Oppenheimer coauthor of Shattered Dreams? An Oral History
of the South African AIDS Epidemic

Anne-Emanuelle Birn, MA ScD
Professor and Canada Research Chair in International Health (2003-2013)
and Interim Director, Collaborative Doctoral Program in Global Health, University of Toronto

Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Book: The Pathological Family

Dear WHOM colleagues,
I am pleased to write that my book, The Pathological Family: Postwar America and the Rise of Family Therapy, was published recently by Cornell University Press.  Here is the link to the CUP website.
Debbie Weinstein
Assistant Director, Pembroke Center
Director, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies
Brown University
Box 1958
Providence, RI 02912
Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Book on History of Caring for Dying Patients

I wish to tell the members of this listserv that my book, The Inevitable
Hour: A History of Caring for Dying Patients in America, has just been
published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Emily Abel

Published in: on April 22, 2013 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  

New Book: South African AIDS Activism and Global Health Politics

Dear All,

I’m sending my warmest greetings from South Africa!

I hope this message finds you all well.  I’m still happy in my job at
Stellenbosch and living in Sea Point in Cape Town.

I am writing to you to share the joyous news that my book, “South African AIDS Activism
and Global Health Politics” which has been published by Palgrave
Macmillan as part of their Global Ethics series:



I’ve also decided to launch my very own blog:
and you can also follow me
on twitter (username: mandisam1).

I’ve pasted below some information about it, including a synopsis,
chapter break-down and some advance praise it has received.

I know the US/UK prices are quite expensive, but I’m pleased to say that
the SA edition will cost R285 (roughly 20 GBP).   All net author
royalties will be donated to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

I’ll be visiting the UK in late April and early May to do research
towards my new project on transnational anti-apartheid health activism
and also to give seminar papers and talks on the research published in
my book at Oxford, Cambridge, LSHTM and LSE on the following dates:

You are all invited to my SA book launches:

I will also be visiting the US to attend the 2014 meeting of the
American Historical Association in Washington DC, if not before.

While a group e-mail made sense in this case, I do promise to respond to every reply to this e-mail individually.

Kind Regards



South African AIDS Activism and Global Health Politics


Release Date: 29 Mar 2013

UK price: £57.50

ISBN: 9780230360624

Mandisa Mbali

Series: Global Ethics

Mandisa Mbali is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social
Anthropology at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. She is a Rhodes scholar and
obtained her doctorate in Modern History at the University of Oxford, UK. Mbali
completed postdoctoral training at Yale University, USA and has published a journal
article and book chapters on post–apartheid AIDS activism and policy-making.
What did South African AIDS activists contribute, politically, to
early international advocacy for free HIV medicines for the world’s poor? Mandisa Mbali demonstrates
that South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) gave moral legitimacy to the
international movement which enabled it to effectively push for new
models of global health diplomacy and governance. The TAC rapidly acquired moral credibility, she
argues, because of its leaders’ anti-apartheid political backgrounds, its successful
human rights-based litigation and its effective popularization of AIDS-related
science.The country’s arresting democratic transition in 1994 enabled
South African activists to form transnational alliances. Its new Constitution provided novel
opportunities for legal activism, such as the TAC’s advocacy against
multinational pharmaceutical companies and the South African government. Mbali’s
history of the TAC sheds light on its evolution into an influential force for global
health justice.


Introduction: South African AIDS Activism & Global Health Justice
1. Health for all? Healthworker AIDS Activism 1982 – 94
2. From Pride to Political Funeral: Gay AIDS Activism 1990 – 4
3. Women, Science and Sexism in AIDS Activism in the 1990s
4. Science and Sexuality in the Formation of the TAC, 1994 – 2001
5. ‘pharma’ v. Mandela: South African Moral Capital in a Global Movement
6. Radical legitimacy: Rights & Reasonableness in the TAC, 2001 – 3
7. ‘The Durban Effect’: The TAC’s Impact on Global Health Diplomacy & Governance
Conclusion: Recession & Reinventions


‘In a landmark case study of transnational AIDS activism, Mbali
constructs a rigorous and analytically innovative framework to support a series of important
and fascinating new insights into the inter-connections between history, politics and health.
Her study provides a nuanced assessment – part sober, part cautiously optimistic – of
the potential for social movements to advance global health justice in
the context of an epidemic that continues to generate devastating suffering in the
lives of millions worldwide – in an era of economic crisis where international funding
for life-saving AIDS treatment is under growing threat.

This is a path-breaking text that opens up productive new directions
for analysis and action in the field of global health justice.’ – Catherine Campbell,
London School of Economics, UK

‘In the early 2000s, South African AIDS activists fought corporate greed and
indifferent political leaders. Mbali’s remarkable book is an impassioned and
convincing account that locates treatment activism in a transnational
frame, and gives novel attention to its gendered politics. It is inspiring but not
romantic—a rich account that deserves to be widely read by historians, activists, and health
workers.’ – Mark Hunter, University of Toronto, Canada

Published in: on April 22, 2013 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

New Book: Active Bodies

Dear WHOM colleagues:

I am pleased to inform you that my book was published a couple months ago. Title is Active Bodies: A History of Women’s Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America. See the link at OUP’s website. The cover alone will stir up many memories of gym class!

Plus, here is the citation for a (fairly) recent article: Verbrugge, “Recreation and Racial Politics in the Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States, 1920s-1950s,” International Journal of the History of Sport 27, no. 7 (May 2010): 1191-1218.

Martha H. Verbrugge
Professor of History
Bucknell University
Lewisburg, PA 17837


Published in: on September 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Book Announcement: Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine

ello everyone,

Patricia Clark’s announcement of her new book last week prodded me to announce mine.
It came out this past July with Routledge Press. Here is the publisher’s link to it.

Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine: Disease and the Geographic Imagination in Late Imperial China

Please order it for your university library! (Too expensive for an individual academic’s budget)

And if you wish to read further, here is an abstract:

This book takes a “disease biography” approach to trace the centuries-old history of a class of febrile disorders called “Warm diseases” (wenbing) in China.  Although biomedicine does not largely recognize traditional disease classifications, focusing on them in Chinese medicine opens a new window on interpretive themes in medical and cultural history as well as on contemporary cultural studies of the history of science. This biography of a Chinese disease concept explores both the geographical imagination in Chinese medical thought over two thousand years of textual history and its intersection with pre-modern and modern epidemiology.

The Chinese geographic imagination is also the metageography of traditional China, such as the fundamental spatial binaries of northwest-southeast and north-south that informed how people organized their world. It also includes the major natural boundaries of mountain ranges and rivers, and even man made ones, such as the Great Wall. Culturally defined regions also fall under metageography—such as the names of the states of antiquity, the schematic five regions and eight winds of the classical period, or the later provinces and bureaucratic regions of imperial China. This metageography structured how Chinese understood the space they lived in, influenced how physicians treated their patients, and had a history as unique to it as does each disease concept.

This book thus focuses on conceptions of space in medical thought, complementing the better-known analysis of medical cosmology in terms of time.  It relates this spatial imagination to the changing boundaries and internal divisions of empire as well as to the different social and clinical local environments within which doctors practiced. “Warm diseases” acquired their association with the geographical south early in imperial history, with epidemics in the wake of the devastating late Ming epidemics of the mid-seventeenth century, and began to be redefined as a distinct “current of learning” in the Qing period. The revisionist indigenous epidemiology that gradually developed out of this led to several “emergent traditions” of the nineteenth century, and became the foundation for twentieth-century Traditional Chinese Medicine disease classification that linked “Warm diseases” with both acute infections and the regional disorders of the Far South. This book thus links the bio
graphy of Warm Diseases and the Chinese geographical imagination to both an evolving older ethno-epidemiology and the processes of resistance to and accommodation with modern science in the twentieth century.

This book also shows how relevant medicine is to cultural and social historians of China by relating medical practices to both late imperial movements of cosmological criticism and social understandings of human variation based on regional rather than ethnic identity. The conclusion brings the story down to the present, showing how the continuing dialectic between local and universal made “Warm diseases” a category that constitutes both Traditional Chinese medicine’s response to germ theory in the twentieth century and a southern disease pattern that the world came to know in the form of SARS, the first newly emergent disease of the twenty-first century.

Currently Visiting Scholar, Max Plank Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Website & publications:

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Book Announcement: A Cretan Healer’s Handbook

Hello – members might like to know that (at long last) my book on Greek
traditional medicine will be available from Ashgate in October. Below is
the publishers ‘blurb’ for  *A Cretan Healer’s Handbook in the Byzantine
Tradition: text, translation and commentary*.

The book is the third volume in the series Medicine in the Medieval
Mediterranean – see:

The link to my book is:

In 1930 the Cretan healer, Nikolaos Konstantinos Theodorakis of Meronas,
re-copied a notebook containing medical lore passed down through his
family over generations. The present volume offers an edition of this
notebook together with an English translation, the first of its kind. It
belongs to the genre of iatrosophia, practical handbooks dating mainly to
the 17th to 19th centuries which compiled healing wisdom, along with
snippets of agricultural, meteorological and veterinary advice, and
admixtures of religion, astrology and magic. Both fascinating and of
critical importance, iatrosophia allow glimpses of classical and Byzantine
medical sources and illustrate the vitality and resilience of Greek
traditional medical and botanical knowledge. From years spent exploring
local healing customs in Crete’s Amari region, Patricia Clark is able to
present Theodorakis’ iatrosophion against a rich historical, geographical
and social background. Introductory essays and explanatory notes to the
translation give context to the iatrosophion and provide the specialized
information necessary for a good understanding of the text. The abundant
materia medica of the notebook is treated in a substantial appendix. Each
animal, mineral, plant or product is provided with an overview of its
various names through the millennia. Such entries are not only a key to
understanding the Greek medical legacy, but also a vivid illustration of
its usage from antiquity to the present day.

Patricia A. Clark,

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Book announcements

From Randi Epstein:

First of all, I love this list, I’ve connected with such interesting women. I’m writing because my book Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank (Norton: 2010) was just released in paperback this January. I like to think of the book as a cultural history of medicine, or rather a history of women’s health through the prism of childbirth. My publisher is happy to send review copies to professors who may be interested in the book for potential inclusion on a syllabus.


From Lesley Hall:

WHOM members may be interested in my new book, _The Life and Times of Stella Browne: Feminist and Free Spirit_, which has just been published by IB Tauris in the UK and will be out in the USA next month via Macmillan.

Further information about Stella Browne and her life here:

And further links:

As well as being a significant figure in the early C20th British struggle for women’s reproductive rights, she had important connections with the US movement and with birth control and sex reform campaigners in continental Europe.

Dr Lesley A Hall

Archives and Manuscripts

Wellcome Library

183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, England UK

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Book announcement: My Imaginary Illness

My book, “My Imaginary Illness: A Journey of Uncertainty and Prejudice
in Medical Diagnosis
“, has been released by Cornell University Press (22
October 2010).  It is part of their series “How Patients Think.”
The Press’ web site for the book is as follows:

A quick description:
At age twenty-one, Chloë Atkins began suffering from a mysterious
illness, the symptoms of which rapidly worsened. Paralyzed for months at
a time, she frequently required intubation and life support. She
eventually became quadriplegic, dependent both on a wheelchair and on
health professionals who refused to believe there was anything
physically wrong with her. When test after test returned inconclusive
results, Atkins’s doctors pronounced her symptoms psychosomatic. Atkins
was told not only that she was going to die but also that this was her
own fault; they concluded she was so emotionally deranged that she was
willing her own death.

My Imaginary Illness is the compelling story of Atkins’s decades-long
battle with a disease deemed imaginary, her frustration with a
succession of doctors and diagnoses, her immersion in the world of
psychotherapy, and her excruciating physical and emotional journey back
to wellness. As both a political theorist and patient, Atkins provides a
narrative critique of contemporary medicine and its problematic handling
of uncertainty and of symptoms that are not easily diagnosed or known.
She convincingly illustrates that medicine’s belief in evidence-based
practice does not mean that individual doctors are capable of
objectivity, nor that the presence of biomedical ethics invokes ethical
practices in hospitals and clinics. A foreword by Bonnie Blair O’Connor,
who teaches medical students how to listen to patients, and a clinical
commentary by Dr. Brian David Hodges, a professor of psychiatry, enrich
the book’s narrative with practical guidance for medical practitioners
and patients alike.

It is now available on

Many thanks,

Chloe G K Atkins

Chloë G. K. Atkins
Associate Professor
Department of Communication and Culture
Law and Society Program
Faculty of Arts
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta

Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 8:24 am  Comments (1)  

Institute of Medicine Report on Women’s Health Research

Dear WHOM colleagues,

Presumably this report from the IOM  was timed to coincide with the conference on the 20th anniversary of the Office of Women’s Health that was held at NIH yesterday.  This notice just appeared in the newsletter for the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences.

Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report: Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise
Women’s health research and the study of sex differences are vitally important and require more attention and focus from federal agencies, according to a new IOM report released on September 23, 2010. To learn more, read the full report: Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise

Monica H. Green

Professor of History

Arizona State University, Box 874302

Tempe, AZ  85287-4302


Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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