Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.
Science at the Borders explores a very interesting
topic, the imposition of medical inspections as a condition of immigration
to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is
a richly detailed look, both archivally and statistically based, at the policies
of the Public Health and Immigration Services. It argues that medical inspections
did not serve their obvious purpose of keeping out immigrants with medical
conditions that threatened to leave them unfit for work and dependent on others,
and that they should instead be understood as a form of social disciplining,
showing immigrants what was expected of them in the new world. Instead of
a commonsensical, straightforward explanation, a less intuitive reinterpretation
is advanced. Does this project succeed?
Baldwin P. Public Health History. JAMA. 2004;291(8):1007-1008. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.1007