Fit to be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939
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.
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African Americans Angeles City Angeles County Health areas argued Belvedere birth rates Board of Health camps Chinatown Chinese Exclusion Act Chinese launderers cited as AHR citizens city council city health city's clinics Congreso County Health Department county hospital county's cultural Department of Charities Depression Dillingham Commission discourse disease East Los Angeles epidemic ethnic filed with CP George Sanchez groups hereafter cited high IMRs hygiene Ibid ican Japanese Japanese birth John Pomeroy LACA LACC LACHD/City LACHD/County laundry living Los Angeles County Mexi Mexican American Mexican and Japanese Mexican births Mexican communities Mexican immigrants Mexican laborers Mexican population Mexican women Mexico municipal neighborhoods ordinance percent plague policies political programs public health public health officials public housing quarantine race racial hierarchy railroad slum social membership Southern California sterilization Tate-Thompson tion tuberculosis typhus United University of California University Press WBCs workers yellow peril