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This talk explores the enduring consequences of postcolonial physician
migration from Asia to the United States initiated during the Cold War.
Lawmakers used the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 to
recruit Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) to provide care for communities
experiencing doctor shortages. Conceived as temporary, this arrangement has
since become a permanent feature of the US healthcare system with foreign
physicians comprising at least a quarter of the physician labor force over the
last fifty years. Using bureaucratic procedure and the clinical encounter, I
examine the translations necessary to make foreign medical labor compatible
with US standards and expectations. Despite attempts at commensurability, the
care provided by FMGs was interpreted and received as an imperfect facsimile of
their US counterparts. By analyzing the experiences of these skilled
immigrants, I explore the shifting and heterogeneous parameters of inclusion
available to the migrant who was also an expert.
Alam specializes in the history of medicine, with a particular emphasis on
globalization, migration, and health during the twentieth century. She is
currently working on two book projects. The first, The Care of Foreigners A History of South Asian
Physicians in the United States, 1965-2017, explores the enduring
consequences of postcolonial physician migration from South Asia to the United
States. The second book, a co-edited volume with Dorothy Roberts, is called Ordering the Human Global Science
and Racial Reason. This project brings together a disciplinarily
diverse group of researchers from around the world. Collectively, they
investigate the malleability and situatedness of race, the work of
consolidating racial ways of knowing, and the forces and flows that dictate the
movement of racial concepts in scientific knowledge production.
Speakers and Presenters
Eram Alam (Harvard, History of Science)
Program on Science, Technology and Society; GSAS; WCFIA; SEAS