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Stephen P. Knadler
Spelman College (Atlanta, GA 30314-4399)
From "Unsanitary Citizens" to Entrepreneurs of Their Own Health: African Americans & the Writing of a Lang. of Public Health

“Unsanitary Citizens” will investigate the cultural politics of health policy in relation to African Americans from the end of the 19th-century to WW II. While there have been excellent studies of African American medical history, my project will use the methods of the literary scholar to better understand the unexamined assumptions, values, and myths that can shape health policy as much as other economic, legislative or political factors. In addition, I will recover this cultural history to enrich our understanding of early African American literary production in relation to the struggle against what Dr. Louis Wright in 1937 called the “murderous neglect by America’s health agencies.” My study will thus explore a tension within public health debates between a narrative of African Americans as “unsanitary citizens” whose poor health care practices made them collective risks and an emerging counter story of African Americans as “entrepreneurs of their own health.”

Project fields:
American Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 7/31/2011