Public Health and the American State

Edited by Gaetano Di Tommaso, Dario Fazzi, Giles Scott-Smith

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Explores how public health concerns and political agendas influenced each other in the US over the past century

  • Provides a comparison of the Spanish Flu and Covid-19 pandemics, giving insights into how the US government responded and what has been learned over the past century
  • Covers how responses to disease have stratified society along race, gender, and class lines, furthering inequality instead of improving public health
  • Includes cross-disciplinary studies, ranging from the hisoty of medicine to social history, economics and cultural studies
  • Includes case studies which are based on unique research on specific threats to public health such as polio, diabetes, HIV-AIDS, and Tuberculosis
  • The case studies critically examine the varying governmental and market-based responses to public health crises, and how these have changed and clashed over time

This book offers an insightful discussion of the complex relationship between public health, US democracy and power during the so-called American century. It sheds light on the intricate history of the US public health system, examining how the development of the federal government has shaped its trajectory. By exploring the intertwined roles of politics, race and socio-economic factors, the contributors uncover the challenges and contradictions of public health in the US from the Spanish Flu to Covid-19. They also investigate the connections between public health and America's aspirations as a global power, as well as its domestic implications for social cohesion and institutional legitimacy. The focus on the American century provides a critical historical timeframe for an in-depth understanding of the connections between public health, people and power, on both the domestic and global stages.

List of Illustrations
Introduction, Gaetano Di Tommaso, Dario Fazzi, Giles Scott-Smith
Beyond Control of Local Authorities: The Spanish Influenza Epidemic and Federal Supervision of Public Health, Jonathan Chilcote
The United States in Two Pandemics: The American Century and the Costs of American Culture, Nancy K. Bristow
The Politics of Public Health: Disease and Medical Authority in 20th Century America, Naomi Rogers
From the ‘Lung Block’ to the ‘China Virus’: Public Health, Xenophobia and US Identity Formation over the American Century, Stefano Morello, Kerri Culhane
Oil, Progress, and Public Health in the Early 20th Century, Gaetano Di Tommaso
Simkins v. Cone and the Hospital Desegregation Movement in the Long Twentieth Century, Richard M. Mizelle, Jr.
Better Dead than Red, or Not? Nuclear Physics and Public Health at the Dawn of the Cold War, Dario Fazzi
Fighting the Cold War and Variola: The American Commitment to Smallpox Eradication, Bob H. Reinhardt
Brother’s Brother Foundation in Costa Rica: A Case Study in Public-Private Partnerships and Global Health in the American Century, Sarah B. Snyder
AIDS and Reproductive Rights in the American Century, Emma Day
The Making of Entitled Consumers: Neoliberal Ideas in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Yifei Li
‘Real Men Wear Masks’: COVID-19 and the Crisis of American Masculinity, Olga Thierbach-McLean
Conclusion, Gaetano Di Tommaso, Dario Fazzi, Giles Scott-Smith.

Public Health and the American State features significant scholarship demonstrating the ways that the U.S. exercise of power and the provision of public health have shaped each other throughout the last century. This carefully curated collection produces that rare volume in which every essay is a must-read, posing new questions and avenues for future research.

Anne Foster, Indiana State University
Gaetano Di Tommaso is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS), The Netherlands.

Dario Fazzi is Assistant Professor of US and Environmental History at Leiden University and Senior Researcher at the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS), The Netherlands.

Giles Scott-Smith is Professor of Transnational Relations and New Diplomatic History and Dean of Leiden University College at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

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