Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939 Volume 20
Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Fit to Be Citizens? demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century. Through a careful examination of the experiences of Mexican, Japanese, and Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, Natalia Molina illustrates the many ways local health officials used complexly constructed concerns about public health to demean, diminish, discipline, and ultimately define racial groups. She shows how the racialization of Mexican Americans was not simply a matter of legal exclusion or labor exploitation, but rather that scientific discourses and public health practices played a key role in assigning negative racial characteristics to the group. The book skillfully moves beyond the binary oppositions that usually structure works in ethnic studies by deploying comparative and relational approaches that reveal the racialization of Mexican Americans as intimately associated with the relative historical and social positions of Asian Americans, African Americans, and whites. Its rich archival grounding provides a valuable history of public health in Los Angeles, living conditions among Mexican immigrants, and the ways in which regional racial categories influence national laws and practices. Molina's compelling study advances our understanding of the complexity of racial politics, attesting that racism is not static and that different groups can occupy different places in the racial order at different times.
University of California Press
March 13, 2006
6.06 X 8.96 X 0.75 inches | 0.9 pounds
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About the Author
Natalia Molina is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at University of Southern California and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She is the author of the award winning How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts and the co-editor of Relational Formations of Race: Theory, Method, and Practice.
"An important advance on previous dissections of the close (and ongoing) links between medicine and racialization in the United States. . . . Molina has written an engaging history that is all the more compelling for its relevance to racialization in the 21st century."-- "American Journal of Sociology"
"Molina accomplishes a formidable feat in this book through incisive analysis, elegant prose, and a passionate engagement with the cruel paradox that groups who suffer poor health due to political, social, and economic disenfranchisement all too often are scapegoated as disease vectors. Fit to Be Citizens? is a sophisticated monograph that should serve as a model for ethnic studies scholarship on race, health, and the body politic in modern America."-- "Western Historical Quarterly"
"This book is full of intriguing discussions of selected public health incidents, drawn principally from the first three decades of the twentieth century. . . . The volume rests upon excellent research in the local records, and Natalia Molina presents a wealth of detailed and previously unexplored information about the shifting policies of Los Angeles health officers during that period."-- "Pacific Historical Review"