2023-2024 Catalog

HIST 277 Women and Community Health

This course explores the history of women as promoters of community health in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States.   Although women have not traditionally held power in mainstream biomedical occupations and institutions, women have nevertheless been critical to health and healing in local communities as caregivers, activists, and practitioners. At times, working class women and women of color have also been demonized as carriers of contagion or even romanticized as repositories of traditional wisdom. Furthermore, women’s roles in community health have been heavily shaped by gendered and racial constructions of the body, disease, and wellbeing.  Thus, while the focus of the course is on the social history of women’s health and healing, the theoretical framework of the course also aims to explore how ideologies of gender, race, class, and sexuality shape women’s relationship to community health as both caregivers and health-seekers. The course is organized by a set of common themes that cut across time, space, and racial/ethnic boundaries in U.S. History.  Themes include: spirituality and healing; work and health; sexuality and reproduction; activism for health justice.  An important goal of this course is to make connections between historical studies of women and health and present-day community health activism. Much of the course and especially the community partnership component focuses on the leadership of women of color in shaping agendas for community well-being.  In the past, course participants have worked with the organizations Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Visión y Compromiso, and Promesa Boyle Heights. We will continue to work this year with women’s health organizations and the Southern California Library on a Reproductive Justice community partnership. In addition, we will welcome several community health activists & scholars to the class as guest speakers.


4 units

Cross Listed Courses

BLST 277

Core Requirements Met

  • United States Diversity