Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown

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University of California Press, Oct 29, 2001 - Medical - 398 pages
Contagious Divides charts the dynamic transformation of representations of Chinese immigrants from medical menace in the nineteenth century to model citizen in the mid-twentieth century. Examining the cultural politics of public health and Chinese immigration in San Francisco, this book looks at the history of racial formation in the U.S. by focusing on the development of public health bureaucracies.

Nayan Shah notes how the production of Chinese difference and white, heterosexual norms in public health policy affected social lives, politics, and cultural expression. Public health authorities depicted Chinese immigrants as filthy and diseased, as the carriers of such incurable afflictions as smallpox, syphilis, and bubonic plague. This resulted in the vociferous enforcement of sanitary regulations on the Chinese community. But the authorities did more than demon-ize the Chinese; they also marshaled civic resources that promoted sewer construction, vaccination programs, and public health management.

Shah shows how Chinese Americans responded to health regulations and allegations with persuasive political speeches, lawsuits, boycotts, violent protests, and poems. Chinese American activists drew upon public health strategies in their advocacy for health services and public housing. Adroitly employing discourses of race and health, these activists argued that Chinese Americans were worthy and deserving of sharing in the resources of American society.

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Whoever said that this book puts them to sleep... well they obviously haven't read this book at all.
Necessary secondary source that centralizes many American narratives and subjugated knowledges
. Must read for everyone, especially people going into Public Health, Social Justice, Health Professions, etc. 

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Terrible read that puts you to sleep. -__-


Public Health and the Mapping of Chinatown
Regulating Bodies and Space
Perversity Contamination and the Dangers of Queer Domesticity
White Women Hygiene and the Struggle for Respectable Domesticity
Plague and Managing the Commercial City
White Labor and the American Standard of Living
Making Medical Borders at Angel Island
Healthy Spaces Healthy Conduct
Reforming Chinatown
Norms as a Way of Life

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About the author (2001)

Nayan Shah is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California and the author of Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West (UC Press).

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