Bates Center Seminar Series – Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease

Speaker: Arleen Tuchman, PhD, Vanderbilt University

Date and Time: Wednesday, April 6, 2022, 4:00pm EDT, virtual BlueJeans event

Abstract: Who is considered most at risk for diabetes, and why? In this talk, Tuchman discusses how, at different times over the past one hundred years, Jews, Native Americans, and African Americans have been labeled most at risk for developing diabetes, and that such claims have reflected and perpetuated troubling assumptions about race, ethnicity, and class. As Tuchman shows, diabetes also underwent a mid-century transformation in the public’s eye from being a disease of wealth and “civilization” to one of poverty and “primitive” populations. In tracing this cultural history, Tuchman argues that shifting understandings of diabetes reveal just as much about scientific and medical beliefs as they do about the cultural, racial, and economic milieus of their time.

Bio: Arleen Tuchman is a specialist in the history of medicine in the United States and Europe, with research interests in the cultural history of health, disease, and addiction; the rise of scientific medicine; and scientific and medical constructions of gender and sexuality. She is the author of three books, the most recent being Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease (Yale University Press, 2020). She is currently working on a history of addiction and the family in the United States.

Tuchman has held many fellowships, including ones from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Tuchman is a past director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society (2006-2009) and has, since 2019, been the co-creator of a historic medicinal garden on Vanderbilt University’s campus

Register here.

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