There are some fascinating parallels between the deployment of eugenic policies around reproduction and women’s bodies in twentieth-century Germany and Japan. In this episode, the fourth in the HBP’s work on reproductive rights and fights in history (from the US to the world). Marissa and Averill tackle eugenics, Nazis, legalized abortion and illegal hormonal birth control, marriage counseling, and more. It’s a story of governments trying to dictate how women can or cannot use their uteruses. Enjoy?
America prides itself on being a country of immigrants – after all, everyone in the United States is the descendant of an immigrant, whether forced and free, unless they are Native American. Americans believe that we offer a place of welcome so much that we emblazoned it onto the Statues of Liberty in the form of Emma Lazarus’s poem, The New Colossus, with those famous lines about the poor, tired, and huddled masses. But like most things in history, the real story is a lot more complicated. Join Averill, Marissa, and Sarah as they talk about the history of those who were turned away at the gates.
Patent for the Statue of Liberty, August Bartholdi, 1879 | Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons
First Ellis Island Immigration Station, 1896 | Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island, where Mary Mallon lived and died. | CC-BY-SA / Wikimedia Commons
Show Notes & Further Reading:
Baynton, Douglas. Defectives in the Land: Disability and Immigration in the Age of Eugenics. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).
Canaday, Margot. The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Canaday, Margot. “”Who is a Homosexual?”: The Consolidation of Sexual Identities in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Immigration Law.” Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003., pp. 351-386.
Leavitt, Judith Walzer. Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.
In the wake of the Global Gag Rule that the U.S. President just issued in his first week in office, there is really no better time to start talking about the history of family limitation in all of its iterations across time and space – from various contraceptives invented by the ancient Egyptians to the many herbal remedies employed by midwives and women generally to “restore the menses” to a broader discussion of when and where states have attempted to control the reproductive feature of women’s bodies. This episode is just the first of many more to come addressing these very issues of women’s reproductive health and rights. Join Marissa and Averill as they dive into the wild, weird, and sometimes dangerous methods of family limitation in the pre-modern world.
Peacock Flower, or Pride of Barbados. Used as a contraceptive.
Rue. Used as an abortifacient when consumed as a tea.
Wild Carrot, or Queen Anne’s Lace. Used as a birth control.
Vaccination has been a controversial subject and we tend to think that this is a new phenomenon. Proponents of vaccination blame anti-vax parents for the recent cropping-up of preventable (and formerly eliminated) diseases such as the NYC measles outbreak in 2014, and the return of Pertussis in 2015. While parents who oppose vaccination or those who believe in vaccine choice are suspicious of the CDC’s rigorous vaccine schedule, “Big Pharma,” and the possibility of vaccine injury due to questionable ingredients. But this is NOT new. Debate and conflict have existed around the use and efficacy of immunizations since the practice first came into use. This episode considers the history of immunization and its opponents.
Illustration of smallpox. (Wikimedia Commons)
Small pox infection site versus cow pox infection site. (Wikimedia Commons)
The dizzying and exciting Jazz Age – that glittering period between the end of World War I and the onset of the global Great Depression – is captured best by Europe’s most beloved American performer: Josephine Baker, the “Jazz Cleopatra.” Born in the Jim Crow South, Baker became the most famous performer of the age, beloved in Europe but largely rejected in her home country. Join Marissa, Sarah, and Averill as they talk about everything from sexy bananas to primitivism in an effort to better understand this modern Cleopatra and her age.
Josephine Baker doing the Charleston. Wikimedia CC
Josephine Baker in her banana skirt. Wikimedia CC
Front of the Lyceum Theatre at night, Sydney [late 1928] with Jaqueline Logan and Alan Hale in “The Leopard Lady.” Flickr CC
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The criminal culpability of people with mental illness has long been hotly debated. Recently, the “insanity defense” has received particular scrutiny as John W. Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan and members of his staff in 1981, has been released from the inpatient mental facility where he has lived since 1982. Many, including Reagan’s family members, think the insanity defense Hinckley used allowed him to get off without facing the consequences of his actions. This got us wondering: where did the insanity defense come from? Join Marissa, Sarah and Averill as they talk about crime, mental illness, and the law.
Matejkowski, Jason C. MSW, Sara W. Cullen, MSW, and Phyllis L. Solomon, PhD, “Characteristics of Persons With Severe Mental Illness Who Have Been Incarcerated for Murder,” J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 36:74 – 86, 2008
When you produce a podcast, you become hyper-aware of the ways that your fellow hosts speak – those nasally “a” sounds and dropped t’s and g’s really stand out when you’re editing. Where did American accents come from? Dan, Sarah, and Marissa talk about the history of North American accents. (We apologize in advance for our terrible impressions!)
McDavid, Raven. ‘Postvocalic R in South Carolina: A social analysis’ American Speech 23 (1948):194-203. Reprinted: Dell Hymes, ed., Language in Culture and Society: A reader in linguistics and anthropology, New York: Harper & Row, 1964; A. S. Dil, ed., Varieties of American English: Essays by Raven McDavid, Jr., Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1980.