In a special seminar organized in conjunction with the 2020 Mellon Scholars Internship program at the Library Company of Philadelphia, Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens (Director of the Program in African American History, Library Company of Philadelphia), Dr. Richard M. Mizelle, Jr. (Associate Professor, University of Houston), and Dr. Samuel K. Roberts, Jr. (Associate Professor, Columbia University) will explore the history of racism in the diagnosis, treatment, and popular portrayals of infectious diseases. Situated in the context of the racial inequities in healthcare revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Racism & Infectious Disease will challenge participants to consider how urban political economies, modern public health systems, racial science, and a host of environmental factors have produced the racial health inequalities that we confront today.
The seminar will unfold in three sessions. The first session, which coincides with the Mellon Scholars Internship program, will frame the historical roots of racism and pandemics through a panel discussion between Dr. Owens, Mizelle, and Roberts and the Mellon Interns. In the second session, Dr. Mizelle will discuss his latest research on resiliency and diabetes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in order to outline how broader environmental conditions shape diagnoses and self-treatment plans. Finally, Dr. Roberts will delve into the cholera epidemics to consider how urban political economy and racial sciences produce devastating health inequities.