UNE Center for Global Humanities presents 'A History of Race, Disease, and Diabetes' on Dec. 5

Image of a finger poke for blood sugar screening
The lecture will be the fourth and final of the Fall 2022 season.

Since the late nineteenth century, the public and medical communities have demonstrated remarkable changes in how they answer the question of who is considered most at risk for diabetes. Traditionally, diabetes was believed to disproportionately affect white, middle-class, and especially Jewish people. After World War II, however, Native Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans became labeled most at risk for the disease at various times. These shifting views reflect troubling assumptions about race, ethnicity, and class, as diabetes has undergone a transformation from being considered a disease of wealth and “civilization” to one of poverty and “primitive” populations.

Such is the argument scholar Arleen Tuchman will make when she visits the University of New England Center for Global Humanities to present a lecture titled “A History of Race, Disease, and Diabetes” on Monday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at the WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion on the UNE Portland Campus.

A specialist in the history of medicine, health, and disease in the United States and Europe, Tuchman is the Nelsen O. Tyrone, Jr. Chair in History at Vanderbilt University. She is also the author of three books, the most recent being “Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease,” which won the 2021 PROSE Book Award in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from the Association of American Publishers and the 2022 George Rosen Prize in the history of public health/social medicine from the American Association for the History of Medicine. Tuchman is a past director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society and has, since 2019, been the co-creator of a historic medicinal garden on the Vanderbilt campus.

In this lecture, Tuchman will analyze the history of diabetes and its treatment in the United States to demonstrate how racial stereotypes often become entrenched in biomedical literature, with dire consequences for those struggling to manage disease.

This fourth and final lecture of the Fall 2022 season for the Center for Global Humanities will be followed by four lectures during the Spring 2023 semester. Lectures at the Center are always free, open to the public, and streamed live online. For more information and to watch the event, please visit: https://www.une.edu/events/2022/history-race-disease-and-diabetes