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read the attachments and answer some of the following questions
This week’s readings present a number of analytical frameworks that historians of medicine and disability historians use: for example, contextualism, social construction, framing, and disability analysis. Even among these major themes, the authors frame and define these analytical approaches in different ways. What stands out to you about these different approaches? Might they all work together in some way? Do some seem to come from a rejection of others?
Social construction suggests that there might be tensions between social and medical definitions applied to bodies. What are some concrete examples from the readings? Other examples in United States history?
In her essay on using disability as a category of analysis, historian Kim Nielsen writes that we could ask: “How did social institutions attempt to create and enforce adherence to those definitions? What were the consequences of those definitions for social relationships, legal institutions, democracy, education, medicine, bodies, epistemological frameworks, foreign policy, social welfare, and on and on? Who is excluded and why?” How might this type of analysis inform medical history? Other types of history?
Nielsen warns: ” Scholars interested in doing excellent history, fairly and justly, must be cautious of the ways such scholarship can be abused to justify continued oppression. Scholars who use disability as a tool of analysis must be careful to avoid benefiting from the analytical intelligence of disability while erasing people with disabilities.” What lessons might we draw from this warning and apply to medical history?
How was the theoretical framework that recognized masturbation as a disease framed by social context? Can theory, science, or medicine exist outside of social context?
H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr. suggests that the move to a disease model pushed the conversation away from an ethical framework (good vs. evil) to a natural framework (normal vs. deviant). Is the notion of being “deviant” value-free? Who establishes our current norms?
What are your thoughts on the idea of disease as socially constructed? Disability?
What factors might shape how physicians have defined disease?
David S. Jones asks, “Why have assertions of no immunity been propagated so uncritically” (710)? What does he say? What do you make of his various suggestions? Are there lessons for historians turning to medical history in this analysis?
Jones argues, “But by emphasizing no immunity to divert blame from American Indian cultures and institutions, these well-meaning theorists transfer responsibility to American Indian bodies” (713). What does Jones mean by that?
Jones puts forward a number of arguments that indicate that the acceptance of the no immunity argument closes the door to critical reflection both about the enormity of the loss and devastation and on the ways that some of the pressures that shaped this tremendous loss continue. What do you make of these arguments?
Jones argues for the importance of the “disease environment” in creating “patterns of vulnerability” (735). What factors create the disease environment?
Jones writes, “diseases rarely act as independent forces but instead are shaped by the different contexts in which they occur” (739). What are your thoughts about this? What might we bring from this to other readings as we move forward in this class?
Take a look at footnote 125 (742). What do you think about this note?