Global History of Public Health (Winter 2015)

Draft. See Blackboard or syllabus distributed in class for official version.

Syllabus – HIST 332/INTS 498 – Global History of Public Health

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Winter 2015

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 14:30-15:50

Office: ADM 3092

Course Description: This course explores the history of public health in a global context from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Latin America, North America, and Europe will each receive approximately one-quarter of our attention, and the other quarter will be dedicated to the connections between these regions. The course examines how health has played an integral role in the creation of nation-states, debates about morality and reproduction, and ideas about race. It also provides students with new perspectives on global history and the connections that transcended the boundaries of individual countries. Focusing in particular on the relationship between health and citizenship, the course asks how health policies have set the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion and how science and medicine have been mobilized to the detriment of groups of people defined by their gender, class, race, or ethnicity.

Learning Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of the history of health.

2) A greater understanding of the relationship between health and citizenship.

3) A greater understanding of the connections between local, national, and global history.

4) A greater ability to describe how gender, class, race, and ethnicity have influenced health practices.

5) A greater ability to analyze historiography.

Course Structure: Class time in this course will be divided between lectures and group discussions of assigned reading. Mondays will generally consist of a lecture, and Wednesdays will generally be dedicated to a discussion of the readings.


  1. Participation, ongoing, 15%
  2. Attendance, ongoing, 5%
  3. In-class presentation, dates to be assigned in the first class, 10%
  4. Bibliography and essay proposal, Wednesday, February 11, 10%
  5. Term test, Monday, March 9, 20%
  6. Essay presentations, Monday, March 23 and Wednesday, March 25, 10%
  7. Historiographic research essay, Wednesday, April 8, 30%

1. Participation. As a third-year course, discussion is an important part of learning. Students are expected to attend class regularly and to actively participate in the discussion of the readings. Students will be required to read approximately 70 pages per week, and they should demonstrate a mastery of the readings and share some critical thoughts about the arguments presented. Contributions to the discussion should be based on the readings and be respectful to classmates.

2. Attendance. Regular attendance is a requirement in this course. The attendance grade is separated from the participation grade in order to emphasize the importance of participating in discussions in addition to showing up for class.

3. In-class presentation. Dates to be chosen in the first week of class. Each student will have to make one presentation to the group (4-5 minutes) on the main themes that appear in one article from the week’s assigned readings. Students should identify the main argument of the article and connect it to the general themes of the course. Students should conclude with two broad questions that stimulate discussion. There will be two or three presentations each week, and students are to coordinate among themselves which topic they will present on. Each student will present on only one article.

3.b. Article review. Instead of an in-class presentation, students may write a 400-word review of an assigned article. A strong review will go beyond summarizing the main points and argument and also highlight the article’s strengths and its contribution to a broader historiographic conversation. The review is due in the week the article is assigned and on the Wednesday before class begins. The review must be completed before March 20 even if the chosen article is to be read by the class at a later date.

4. Bibliography and essay proposal. 200 words and eight titles. Students will have to select a topic for their research essay well in advance of the due date. For this short assignment, students are asked to write a 200-word paragraph that outlines the general thrust of their essay and that explains their research question. In addition, students are required to include a bibliography of at least eight scholarly articles, books, or chapters in an edited volume that they will use for their research essay. Students are encouraged to use some books, either those found in the UNBC library or acquired through the interlibrary loan system. Students should note that the interlibrary loan system takes about one week for delivery. This bibliography does not require any annotation. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with Dr. Bryce during his office hours in the weeks leading up to the due date.

5. Term test. 1 hour, in class on Monday, March 9. Students will be asked to answer two of four questions in essay form. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and readings and questions will be broad enough to allow students to discuss several weeks of readings and lectures.

6. Essay presentations. Each student will give a 5-minute presentation on his or her research essay. Both of our 80-minute classes that week will be dedicated to these presentations. Students are expected to present something more advanced than their bibliography and essay proposal, but they are not expected to have a polished version of their essays. The goal of this assignment is threefold. First, students will learn about new topics in the history of health from their classmates’ research. Second, classmates will pose a few brief questions to the presenter that may help the author strengthen his or her analysis for the final essay. Third, the activity will ensure that students are prepared for the final research essay due two weeks later in class.

7. Historiographic research essay. 10-12 pages. Students will be asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze a topic in the history of health. They are to draw from at least eight publications (books, articles, or chapters in edited volumes). Outside research is required, and at least eight books, articles, or chapters not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can analyze research assigned in class, but it must be in addition to eight other publications. The topic is open but it must relate to one of the themes of the course.


All readings in this course will come from journal articles. They can be downloaded from Blackboard or accessed via the library’s catalogue. The articles are listed in the course overview below. All readings are mandatory.

Course overview:

January 5 and 7 – Introduction

  • Readings:
    • Michael Pettit. “Becoming Glandular: Endocrinology, Mass Culture, and Experimental Lives in the Interwar Age.” American Historical Review 118 (2013): 1052-1076.

January 12 and 14 – Health in Schools

  • Readings:
    • Mona Gleason. “Race, Class, and Health: School Medical Inspection and ‘Healthy’ Children in British Columbia, 1890 to 1930.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 19 (2002): 95-112.
    • Mary Anne Poutanen. “Containing and Preventing Contagious Disease: Montreal’s Protestant School Board and Tuberculosis, 1900-1947.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 23 (2006): 401-428.

January 19 and 21 – Health and Borders

  • Readings:
    • Nancy Leys Stepan. “The National and the International in Public Health: Carlos Chagas and the Rockefeller Foundation in Brazil, 1917–1930s.” Hispanic American Historical Review 91 (2011): 469-502.
    • Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Lisa Sattenspiel, and Jessica Dimka. “Influenza-Associated Mortality during the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic in Alaska and Labrador: A Comparison.” Social Science History 37 (2013): 177-229.

Last day to add/drop courses without financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. January 19.

January 26 and 28 – Immigration and Quarantine

  • Readings:
    • Krista Magelen. “‘The First Line of Defence’: British Quarantine and the Port Sanitary Authorities in the Nineteenth Century.” Social History of Medicine 15 (2002): 413-428.
    • Julia Rodriguez. “Inoculating against Barbarism? State Medicine and Immigrant Policy in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina.” Science in Context 19 (2006): 357-380.
    • Alexandra Minna Stern, “Buildings, Boundaries, and Blood: Medicalization and Nation-Building on the U.S.-Mexico Border.” 
Hispanic American Historical Review 79 (1999): 41-81.

February 2 and 4 – Health and Race

  • Readings:
    • Kristin Burnett. “Race, Disease, and Public Violence: Smallpox and the (Un)Making of Calgary’s Chinatown, 1892.” Social History of Medicine 25 (2012): 362-379.
    • Mary Ellen Kelm. “Diagnosing the Discursive Indian: Medicine, Gender, and the ‘Dying Race’.” Ethnohistory 52 (2005): 371-406.
    • Johanna Schoen. “Fighting for Child Health: Race, Birth Control, and the State in the Jim Crow South.” Social Politics 4 (1997): 90-113.

February 11 – Aboriginal Peoples

  • February 9 is Family Day, University closed.
  • Readings:
    • Warwick Anderson. “Indigenous Health in a Global Frame: From Community Development to Human Rights,” Health and History 10 (2008): 94-108.
    • Ian Mosby. “Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research and Human Biomedical Experimentation in Aboriginal Communities and Residential Schools, 1942–1952.” Histoire Sociale/Social History 46 (2013): 145-172.
    • Maureen Lux. “We Demand ‘Unconditional Surrender’: Making and Unmaking the Blackfoot Hospital, 1890s to 1950s.” Social History of Medicine 25 (2011): 665-684.

Bibliography and essay proposal. Due Wednesday, February 11

February 16-March 1 – Reading Week

  • No classes

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. February 17.

March 2 and 4 – Eugenics I

  • Readings:
    • Alberto Spektorowski. “The Eugenic Temptation in Socialism: Sweden, Germany, and the
Soviet Union.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46 (2004): 84-106.
    • Alexandra Minna Stern. “‘The Hour of Eugenics’ in Veracruz, Mexico: Radical Politics, Public Health,
and Latin America’s Only Sterilization Law.” Hispanic American Historical Review 91 (2011): 431-443.

March 9 and 11 – Eugenics II

  • Readings:
    • Andrés Reggiani. “Depopulation, Fascism, and Eugenics in 1930s Argentina.” Hispanic American Historical Review 90 (2010): 283-318.
    • Richard Soloway. “The ‘Perfect Contraceptive’: Eugenics and Birth Control Research in Britain and America in the Interwar Years.” Journal of Contemporary History 30 (1995): 637-664.
    • Molly Ladd-Taylor. “Saving Babies and Sterilizing Mothers: Eugenics and Welfare Politics in the Interwar United States.” Social Politics 4 (1997): 136-153.

Term test. Monday, March 9

March 16 and 18 – Venereal Disease

  • Readings:
    • Anna Lundberg. “Paying the Price of Citizenship: Gender and Social Policy on Venereal Disease in Stockholm, 1919-1944.” Social Science History 32 (2008): 215-234.
    • Mary Louise Roberts. “The Price of Discretion: Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and the American Military in France, 1944–1946.” American Historical Review 115 (2010): 1002-1030.
    • Annette Timm. “Sex with a Purpose: Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and Militarized Masculinity in the Third Reich.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 11 (2002): 223-255.

March 23 and 25 – Essay Presentations

  • No readings
  • Essay presentations

March 30 and April 1 – Family Health and Population Control

  • Readings:
    • Cronelie Usborne. “Rhetoric and Resistance: Rationalization of Reproduction in Weimar Germany.” Social Politics 4 (1997): 65-89.
    • Raúl Necochea López. “Priests and Pills: Catholic Family Planning in Peru, 1967-1976.” Latin American Research Review 43 (2008): 34-56.
    • Matthew James Connelly. “Seeing Beyond the State: The Population Control Movement and the Problem of Sovereignty.” Past & Present 193 (2006): 197-233.

April 8 – International Collaboration I

  • April 6 is Easter Monday, University closed.
  • Readings:
    • Steven Palmer. “Migrant Clinics and Hookworm Science: Peripheral Origins of International Health, 1840-1920.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 83 (2009): 676-709.
    • Pauline Mazumdar. “In the Silence of the Laboratory’: The League of Nations Standardizes Syphilis Tests.” Social History of Medicine 16 (2003): 437-459.

Research essay. Due in class on Wednesday, April 8

April 13 and April 15 – International Collaboration II

  • Readings:
    • Anne-Emanuelle Birn. “‘No More Surprising than a Broken Pitcher’? Maternal and Child Health in the Early Years of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 19 (2002): 17-46.
    • Marcos Cueto. “International Health, the Early Cold War and Latin America.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 25 (2008): 17-41.

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard at least two weeks before the due date. Students should check this site regularly. Grades will not be posted to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail. Please read carefully the Definition of Grades (above) before discussing your grade on an assignment with Dr. Bryce. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have or raise them in class. If you cannot make it to my office hours, please e-mail me to set up an alternative appointment. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by email. Please use your UNBC e-mail address to communicate with me, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the drop-in writing centre in the library ( The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free (

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. I advise that you print a copy of the notes that you take on the assigned readings and participate in class discussions using those notes. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Twitter: Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@BenjaminBryce2). I tweet articles about university affairs, graduate school, and history in the media. I will also use the hashtag #hist332 to tweet articles and images related to course topics. All students are welcome to use this hashtag and to tweet articles, movies, images, and songs related to course topics as well. Please remember to compose all tweets using the professional language that is expected in the classroom at the University of Northern British Columbia. Using Twitter is not a requirement for this course. No important course content will be distributed over Twitter. The hashtag #hist332 exists only to share related materials and to create a sense of community.

Submission of written work and lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class on the date specified in this syllabus. Late submission of an assignment will be penalized by deducting five percentage points per day (excluding weekends). If an assignment is not handed in during class, it is considered a day late. Late assignments will not be accepted after one week without a valid medical certificate. Late assignments can be submitted to Georgia Montgomery, the administrative assistant in the Department of History (on the third floor of the Administration Building), who will date-stamp the written work. If you submit an assignment to the department, inform Dr. Bryce of this with an e-mail. The Department of History will not be held responsible for any late assignments that go missing. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all of your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with Dr. Bryce before the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify Dr. Bryce as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Academic honesty and plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously. Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach Dr. Bryce to discuss your needs. If you require accommodations for a disability, or have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

Student conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website: