Arleen Marcia Tuchman’s book, Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease (Yale UP, 2020), tells the American history of a disease that continues to defy categorizations. Researchers for more than a century have worked to create distinctions between “types” of diabetes to parse people who all share the trait of high levels of sugar in their blood. Tuchman shows how efforts to divide diabetes into types tracked efforts to divide people into different types—specifically by race. For Tuchman, this move reflects an American obsession with race that too often overlooks racism as a fundamental cause of disease.
The book won the 2022 Rosen Prize from the American Association for the History of Medicine and will be of immediate interest to readers interested in Science & Technology Studies, American History, and social justice.
This interview was a collaborative effort among Professor Laura Stark and graduate students at Vanderbilt University in the course, “American Medicine & the World.” Please email Laura with any feedback on the interview or questions about how to design collaborative interview projects for the classroom. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.