“Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey” Performance by Elizabeth Liang

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-21 07:53Z by Steven

“Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey” Performance by Elizabeth Liang

Arts at MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Eastman Laboratories (Building 6)
2014-02-21, 18:00-20:30 EST (Local Time)

Written and Performed by Elizabeth Liang

Who are you when you’re from everywhere and nowhere? Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey is a funny and poignant one-woman show about growing up as a dual citizen of mixed heritage in Central America, North Africa, the Middle East, and New England.

Elizabeth Liang, like President Obama, is a Third Culture Kid or a TCK. Third Culture Kids are the children of international business people, global educators, diplomats, missionaries, and the military-anyone whose family has relocated overseas because of a job placement. Liang weaves humorous stories about growing up as an Alien Citizen abroad with American commercial jingles providing her soundtrack through language confusion, first love, culture shock, Clark Gable, and sandstorms…Our protagonist deals with the decisions every global nomad has to make repeatedly: to adapt or to simply cope; to build a bridge or to just tolerate. From being a Guatemalan-American teen in North Africa to attending a women’s college in the USA, Alien Citizen reflects her experience that neither one was necessarily easier than the other. She realizes that girls across the world are growing into womanhood in environments that can be hostile to females (including the USA). How does a young girl cope as a border/culture/language/religion straddler in country after country that feels “other” to her when she is the “other” Where is the line between respecting others and betraying yourself?

For more information, click here.

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Community Profiles – Melissa Nobles

Posted in Articles, Biography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2013-05-09 02:30Z by Steven

Community Profiles – Melissa Nobles

MIT School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences
Great Ideas Change the World

Leda Zimmerman

“All societies periodically have to do soul-searching,” says Melissa Nobles, the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science. With research that illuminates historic episodes of racial and ethnic injustice, Nobles has developed a deep understanding of how different nations go about the process of self-examination and attempt to right the wrongs of the past. Such efforts, believes Nobles, require rigorous honesty and “making sure all voices are heard.”

Budding Political Aspirations

A self-described “political person,” Nobles learned early on about speaking up in the public arena. She was class president during most of her high school years in New Rochelle, NY and remembers attending forums in city hall to protest the school board “taking our school’s money away.” The daughter of parents born and raised in the American South, Nobles grew up during a racially fraught era, and was riveted by news accounts of the civil rights movement, as well as profoundly interested in the political struggles and history of black Americans.
Politics and Race
This passion to understand politics and its relation to race found an outlet during Nobles’ undergraduate years at Brown University in the early 1980s. Through courses on Latin America, she became fascinated with Brazil, a slave-holding country like the U.S. well into the 19th century. The prevailing academic wisdom was that post-slavery, Brazil evolved into a racial democracy with “no sharp lines of racial demarcation,” while the U.S. saw reconstruction, Jim Crow, racial violence and socioeconomic inequities.
But as scholars scrutinized the lives of contemporary Brazilians of color, the disparity (between U.S. and Brazilian national stories) began to crumble. According to Nobles, who eagerly absorbed the new findings, “all socioeconomic indicators that make democracy meaningful didn’t look so good for them, and in a further irony, things looked better for black Americans.” She recalls thinking, “If I’d been born in Brazil, looking the way I do, I wonder what my life outcomes would have been.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference

Posted in Dissertations, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-05-21 22:04Z by Steven

Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
250 pages

Anne Pollock, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology and Culture
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Submitted to the Program in Science, Technology and Society In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This dissertation is an examination of intersections of race, pharmaceuticals, and heart disease over the course of the 20th century and today. Each of these parts has had a dynamic history, and when they are invoked together they provide a terrain for arguments about interventions in health and in justice in the present.

An enduring aspect of discourses of heart disease over the past century has been articulating connections between characterizations of the modem American way of life and of heart disease. In that process, heart disease research and practice has participated in differentiating Americans, especially by race. This dissertation uses heart disease categories and the drugs prescribed for them as windows into racialized medicine.

The chapters are organized in a way that is roughly chronological, beginning with the emergence of cardiology as a specialty just before World War II and the landmark longitudinal Framingham Heart Study that began shortly thereafter. A central chapter tracks the emergence and mobilization of African American hypertension as a disease category since the 1960s. Two final chapters attend to current racial invocations of two pharmaceuticals: thiazide and BiDil. Using methods from critical historiography of race, anthropology, and science studies, this thesis provides an account of race in medicine with interdisciplinary relevance.

By attending to continuities and discontinuities over the period, this thesis illustrates that race in heart disease research and practice has been a durable preoccupation. Racialized medicine has used epistemologically eclectic notions of race, drawing variously on heterogeneous aspects that are both material and semiotic. This underlying ambiguity is central to the productivity of the recorded category of race. American practices of medicating race have also been mediating it, arbitrating and intervening on new and renewed articulations of inclusion and difference in democratic and racialized American ways of life.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Preoccupations with Racialized Modernity in Early Cardiology
  • Chapter 3: Constructing and Supplementing Framingham’s Normal White Americans: The Framingham and Jackson Heart Studies
  • Chapter 4: The Durability of African American Hypertension as a Disease Category
  • Chapter 5: Thiazide and Racialization of a Generic Drug
  • Chapter 6: BiDil: Medi©ating the Intersection of Race and Heart Failure
  • Epilogue: Tracking Plural Noninnocent Discourses
  • Works Cited

…Early Framingham investigators did their research in an all-white population, but they participated in larger conversations about black/white differences, too. The Framingham investigators themselves participated in the simultaneous constructions of hypertension and African American hypertension in the 1960s, an era that saw the ascendance both of hypertension as a risk factor and of the Civil Rights Movement. Their own study’s lack of inclusion of African Americans did not preclude their participation in arguments about racial differences in hypertension. Addressing “Environmental Factors in Hypertension” in a 1967 publication, the investigators wrote:

The principal population groups among whom blood pressures have been reported to be lower than among Americans and Europeans are various primitive peoples. The sample size has usually been small, especially in the older ages, and conclusions about age trends are complicated both by this fact, and by the fact that it is often not possible to accurately determine the age of the subjects. Among those population groups studied adequately, the following may be said:

Blood pressure distributions are similar among such diverse groups as: Caucasians living in Europe, the United States, and the West Indies; among Chinese living in Taiwan, and among Japanese in Japan.

Negro populations have higher blood pressures than whites living in the same areas and studied by the same investigators, particularly among females and in the older age groups. Distributions of blood pressures among Negro populations living in the United States and in the West Indies, whether rural or urban, high or low salt eaters, are similar. Their blood pressures are higher than those of Negroes in Liberia, a principal source of Negro migration to the Western Hemisphere. Admixture of the Negro races in the Western Hemisphere makes the interpretation of this data difficult. It is in this general background of unencouraging experience that the study of particular environmental factors, which could conceivably affect the blood pressure level, must be approached.

I will return to the question of African American Hypertension as a disease category in Chapter 4, but for now attend to other aspects of this quote. Here, we can see the distance between direct evidence or argument and the invocation of a common sense of racialization of cardiovascular disease. Although their phrasing evokes neutral grammars of data, there are no citations or evidence for these assertions about “Negro populations,” suggesting that the authors conceive of these statements less as arguments than as reflecting the consensus of the field. Unable to grapple with the embodied admixture that is not merely biological but also historical and cultural, much history is paved over in word choices such as “migration” to describe the slave trade and “admixture” to describe oppressive sexual relations under slavery.

Paucity of data is not actually the problem. The investigators make an odd claim about the cause of the difficulty of research into environmental causes of racial disease disparities: that “admixture” gets in the way of interpretation. Logically, assimilation would be the kind of mixing that would pose a problem for separating out environmental causes of disease by race, but the investigators lacked a language for cultural, in addition to biological admixture. The peculiarity of the investigators’ framing should alert us both to the fact of racialized hypertension’s existence at the nexus of the biological and the environmental, and that Framingham is telling both a white story and a universal one…

Read the entire dissertation here.

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3 Questions: Melissa Nobles on the U.S. Census

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2010-04-01 17:55Z by Steven

3 Questions: Melissa Nobles on the U.S. Census

MIT News
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Melissa Nobles, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

As America’s decennial headcount gets under way, an MIT political scientist discusses the history of race and ethnicity in the U.S. Census

April 1 marks National Census Day, the official date of this year’s U.S. Census. To help put the census in context, MIT News spoke with Associate Professor of Political Science Melissa Nobles, whose teaching and research interests span the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, and issues of retrospective justice. Her book, “Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics” (Stanford University Press, 2000), examined the political origins and consequences of racial categorization in demographic censuses in the United States and Brazil.

Q. You’ve noted in your book that the initial impetus for census-taking was political, and yet the earliest censuses also included racial categories. Why are race and ethnicity included in the U.S. Census?

A. Census-taking in the U.S. is as old as the Republic. The U.S. Constitution mandates that an “actual enumeration” be conducted every 10 years to allow for representational apportionment. The initial impetus for census taking was political. Yet the earliest censuses also included racial categories. The inclusion of these categories offers important insights into the centrality of racial and ethnic identifications in American political, economic and social life. This centrality continues to this day…

…The 1850 census first introduced the category “mulatto,” at the behest of a southern physician, in order to gather data about the presumed deleterious effects of “racial mixture.” Post-Civil War censuses, which continued to include the “mulatto” category, reflected the enduring preoccupation with “racial mixing.”..

Read the entire article here.

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