Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Worthy of Care? Medical Inclusion from the Watts Riots to the Building of King-Drew, Prisons, and Skid Row, 1965-1986
by Ramos, Nic John Fajardo, Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2017, 308; 10619469
Abstract (Summary)

Using historical and spatial methods to analyze a model academic medical center built after the 1965 Watts Riots—King-Drew Medical Center—in South Los Angeles, Worthy of Care? argues that multiculturalism was productive in dividing society between a multicultural mainstream and a “permanent underclass.” Shaped by new possibilities for citizen inclusion, greater participation in mainstream society, and access to healthcare under President Johnson’s landmark health and antipoverty laws, black medical professionals pioneered the design of the first federally-funded and black-led urban academic medical center attached to new cutting-edge health infrastructure—comprehensive health clinics, community mental health centers, and modern emergency rooms. It was important to black medical and political leaders that this new health system not only produce individual bodily health in black citizens but also fight the racial stigma of biological inferiority, poverty, and mental illness in black communities by producing heterosexuality, able-bodiedness, and employment as normal and natural to black health.

By the time King-Drew opened in 1972, however, medical and political leaders had to contend with the changing landscape of Los Angeles’ globalizing economy. Sizable numbers of immigrants from Asia and Latin America and new social movements associated with welfare, disability, women’s, and gay rights constitutive of these economic changes also began to impact the mission and function of the medical center. Faced with new phenomena such as “new homelessness,” undocumented immigration, “working poverty,” and gang and drug violence, the dissertation illustrates how medical infrastructure stigmatized urban residents of color for the ways they countered normative expectations of race and sexuality. The dissertation ultimately contends that, rather than eradicate poverty, the publicly funded medical center became productive for its capacity to contain and manage it by making working motherhood, racialized violence, and homeless health and mental health services profitable for a new enlarged free market healthcare and social service industry.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shah, Nayan B.
Commitee: Deverell, William, Halberstam, Jack, Sanchez, George
School: University of Southern California
Department: American Studies and Ethnicity
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Medicine, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Anti-poverty, Healthcare, King-Drew, Urban health, Watts riots, Working poverty
Publication Number: 10619469
ISBN: 9780355190243
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