Fayerweather Hall (Room 513), Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York
Eram Alam will discuss her current book project, The Care of Foreigners, which considers the enduring consequences of post-colonial physician migration from Asia to the United States. Since at least the 1960s, the US has trained fewer healthcare providers than it needs, relying instead on the economically expedient option of soliciting immigrant physicians. Initiated during the Cold War with the passage of the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the arrangement was conceived as a temporary stopgap. However, it has since become a permanent feature of US healthcare with immigrant physicians comprising at least a quarter of the physician labor force to date. The entanglement between immigration, foreign policy, and US healthcare has perpetuated a segmented system whereby foreign physicians are directed to care for vulnerable patients in under-resourced communities throughout the country. The Care of Foreigners foregrounds global dynamics embedded in the medical system to ask how and why Asian physicians – and especially practitioners from South Asia – have become integral to US medical practice and a ubiquitous presence in mainstream mass media.
Eram Alam, Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University