Monday workshop
Monday, March 14, 2022 - 3:30pm

392 Cohen Hall

Unsettling Biomedicine: Indigenous Health and American Empire in Postwar Alaska

In the aftermath of World War II, Alaska emerged as a crucial outpost for national defense and as a destination for growing numbers of white American settlers. As American public health officials, physicians, biomedical researchers, nurses, and technicians flocked northward—drawn by the new job opportunities that accompanied accelerated settler colonialism and militarization—they consistently positioned Alaska as a model for the “Third World.” They found opportunities to carve out new forms of expertise, test novel treatments and experimental interventions, and build new bodies of biomedical knowledge. And they did so with an eye towards the myriad ways that Alaska could serve as a resource, laboratory, or metric for elsewhere. Biomedicine took on many different roles in support of American empire, but the use of Alaska Native communities as proving grounds remained constant. This talk will explore invocations of Alaska as a model for the “Third World” and in doing so will map the connections between settler colonial biomedicine in Alaska and American imperial ambitions overseas.