Lecture / Reading

Policing Health: Making Poverty, Race, and Sexuality Productive in Global Los Angeles, 1965-1986

Sponsored by Stanford University Libraries


Friday, March 5, 2021
2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
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Join us as Nic John Ramos discusses Policing Health: Making Poverty, Race, and Sexuality Productive in Global Los Angeles, 1965-1986. In his talk, Ramos will examine the development of medical expertise and health protocol in new public health institutions. He investigates neighborhood clinics, community mental health centers, and emergency medical systems nationally piloted in a Los Angeles County hospital and Black-led Medical School built as a response to the 1965 Watts Uprising/Riots called King-Drew Medical Center. Ramos argues, by the 1980s, this suite of health institutions functioned with enlarged police outfits, new patterns of spatial segregation, and more highly securitized state hospitals to manage worklessness, undocumented immigration, and working poverty resulting from post 1960s global economic restructuring. His reading of archival documents reveals politicians, medical experts, and health policy makers mobilized discourses of health and moral uplift embedded in the racial and sexual liberalism of 1960s and 1970s social movements to reform the supposed “backwards” sexuality, reproductive politics, and “culture” of LGBT, undocumented, and poor people of color. As an urban “safety net” for the medically indigent, these public health institutions renewed policing of LGBT, undocumented, and poor Black and Brown people while buffeted profitable health markets outside “medically underserved areas” from collapse.


Nic John Ramos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel University. Prior to arriving at Drexel, he was the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of Race in Science and Medicine at Brown University and received his doctorate in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His research is broadly interested in the historical and spatial intersections of race, sexuality, medicine and capitalism. His published work can be found in American Quarterly, the Journal of History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, and GLQ.

This event is co-sponsored by Stanford Libraries' Silicon Valley Archives and by the Claremont Colleges Program in Science, Technology and Society.