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Jacqueline Jones, Chair 128 Inner Campus Dr., Stop B7000, GAR 1.104 Austin, TX 78712-1739 • 512-471-3261

Abena Dove Osseo-Asare

Assistant Professor Ph.D. History of Science, Harvard University

Contact

  • Office: GAR 0.112
  • Office Hours: Spring 2015: W 1:30-3 p.m.
  • Campus Mail Code: B7000

Biography

Abena Dove Osseo-Asare is an historian of medicine and science who focuses on cases in African societies. Her first book, Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is a study of six plants which scientists in Ghana, South Africa, Madagascar and other countries sought to transform into new pharmaceuticals. Abena Dove received her PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. She has received awards from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Hellman Family Foundation. Previously, she taught in the History Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Osseo-Asare is a faculty associate of the new Health and Society major in the College of Liberal Arts.

Interests

history and sociology of science, technology, and medicine, global health, Africa: Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, nuclear energy, medical isotopes, biotechnology, plants and society, drugs, pharmaceuticals

HIS 350L • African Travel Narratives

38525 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WEL 4.224
(also listed as AFR 372G )
show description

This course examines histories of Africa and travel through eyewitness accounts. Course participants will study journeys Africans have made within and from the continent alongside accounts of travelers visiting Africa from elsewhere. These travelers included migrant laborers, market women, Peace Corps volunteers, enslaved individuals, soldiers, political activists, adopted children, and religious evangelists since the 18th century.

 

The course readings and films focus on different groups of travelers in a number of time periods.

 

Some of the guiding questions we will consider:

 

How did people experience the movement of their bodies from one location to another?

 

How has ‘Africa’ taken on different meanings for our travelers?

 

What do their narratives indicate about changing conceptions of ethnicity, migration, tourism, citizenship, and the environment in different time periods?

 

And how did shifts in medical, transportation, and communication technologies shape their journeys?

  

HIS 366N • Global History Of Disease

38730 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 301
(also listed as AFR 372D )
show description

This course introduces major themes in the history of medicine through the lens of disease. It focuses on two questions: How have people defined well-being? How have they responded to illness? The course considers major diseases to understand their multiple meanings across time and space including: Ebola, AIDS, malaria, plague, cholera, influenza, sleeping sickness, Chagas Disease, and PTSD. Themes to be considered include changing theories of disease causality, the development of international public health policy, social understandings of the body, and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. The course emphasizes the roles governments, medical practitioners, and patients play in the social construction of disease and health. Case studies from India, Brazil, South Africa and the United States will be analyzed through readings, lectures and films.

Course Goals:

Primarily, this course aims to equip participants with tools for reading and researching about the past. Further, it provides a useful introduction to medical history across cultures for those considering a career in medicine or public health. It shows how people define illness according to particular social and cultural categories overtime. Through specific case studies, the course provides participants with an historical framework to interpret current debates in health policy and disease management.

Mary J. Dobson, Disease: The Extraordinary Stories Behind History’s Deadliest Killers

Charles Rosenberg, The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866

Michel Cochrane, When AIDS Began: San Francisco and the Making of an Epidemic

Randall Packard, The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria

Additional Course Readings available online

Course participants will write two short papers (20%), take a midterm (15%) and a final (35%). Response papers, attendance and participation in class discussions contributes towards 30% of final grade. Late papers are not accepted. Plagarism and sloppy citations result in a failing grade.

HIS 350L • Medicine In African History

38615 • Spring 2015
Meets W 300pm-600pm GAR 0.128
(also listed as AFR 372D )
show description

How do societies understand illness, and how do they restore good health? In this course, we explore how communities have confronted disease throughout Africa’s history.  During the first six weeks, we read about the changing role of specialist healers since the 1700s, including shamans, malams, nurses, and drug peddlers. The second half of the course turns to the history of specific diseases including malaria, AIDS, sleeping sickness, and kwashiorkor through regional case studies. Particular emphasis is placed on pre-colonial healing, medical education, colonial therapeutics, and the impact of environmental change.

This course offers participants a nuanced, historical perspective on the current health crisis in Africa. Staggering figures place the burden of global disease in Africa; not only AIDS and malaria, but also pneumonia, diarrhea and mental illness significantly affect the lives of everyday people. Studying the history of illness and healing in African societies provides a framework with which to interpret the social, political, and environmental factors shaping international health today.

 Texts:

Timothy Burke

Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women: Commodification, Consumption and Cleanliness in Modern Zimbabwe (Duke, 1996)

Steven Feierman, John M. Janzen

The Social Basis of Health and Healing in Africa (California, 1992)

 

Nancy Rose Hunt

A colonial lexicon: Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo

(Duke, 1999)

 John Illiffe

The African AIDS Epidemic: A History

(Ohio, 2006)

 Maryinez Lyons,

The Colonial Disease: A Social History of Sleeping Sickness in Northern Zaire, 1900-1940

(Cambridge, 2002)

 Malidoma Patrice Some

Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman (Penguin Books, 1995)

Grading:

Course participants will make two oral and written reports on weekly assignments. There will also be one longer research paper (12-15 pages) on the history of a particular health concern.

HIS 381 • Drugs In World History

38900 • Spring 2015
Meets TH 1230pm-330pm CMA 3.134
show description

Reading seminar-

The field of drug history allows us to learn about societies through their shifting relationships to pharmacological substances. In this seminar, we will focus on the multiple histories of major drugs including: Opium, Cocaine, Oral Contraceptives, Khat, Kola, and Viagra.

 

We will trace stories of each substance across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas using articles, historical texts, novels and films. Seminar participants will gain a comparative perspective on how societies regulate, discover, test, and market legal and illegal drugs over time, and how these multiple approaches overlap and inform one another. We will emphasize new research in history of medicine, anthropology, film studies, and public policy that suggests a theoretical framework for further investigations.

 

Texts:

The Opium Clerk

Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman

Leaf of Allah: Khat and Agricultural Transformation in Harerge Ethiopia 1875-1991

Kola is God's Gift

My Cocaine Museum

On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970

Prescribing by Numbers: Drugs and the Definition of Disease

Media/Films

Classic Narcotics Propaganda Films (1940s-70s)

TRAFFIK (the British miniseries)

Traffic (the film)

Maria Full of Grace

The Constant Gardener

Grading:

Contributions to Class Discussions .................................................................................... 40%

Short Research Paper ................ .......................................................................................30%

Presentations.....................................................................................................................10%

Response Papers...............................................................................................................10%

Bibliographic Database........................................................................................................10%

HIS 350L • African Travel Narratives

39593 • Fall 2014
Meets W 300pm-600pm RLM 5.124
(also listed as AFR 372G )
show description

This course examines histories of Africa and travel through eyewitness accounts. Course participants will study journeys Africans have made within and from the continent alongside accounts of travelers visiting Africa from elsewhere. These travelers included migrant laborers, market women, Peace Corps volunteers, enslaved individuals, soldiers, political activists, adopted children, and religious evangelists since the 18th century.

 The course readings and films focus on different groups of travelers in a number of time periods.

 Some of the guiding questions we will consider:

  • How did people experience the movement of their bodies from one location to another?
  • How has ‘Africa’ taken on different meanings for our travelers?
  • What do their narratives indicate about changing conceptions of ethnicity, migration, tourism, citizenship, and the environment in different time periods?
  • And how did shifts in medical, transportation, and communication technologies shape their journeys?

HIS 366N • Global History Of Disease

39793 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm UTC 3.122
show description

Course Overview:

This course introduces major themes in the history of medicine through the lens of disease. It focuses on two questions: How have people defined well-being? How have they responded to illness? The course considers major diseases to understand their multiple meanings across time and space including: plague, cholera, influenza, sleeping sickness, PTSD, AIDS and malaria. Themes to be considered include changing theories of disease causality, the development of international public health policy, social understandings of the body, and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry.  The course emphasizes the roles governments, medical practitioners, and patients play in the social construction of disease and health. Case studies from India, Brazil, South Africa and the United States will be analyzed through readings, lectures and films.

Course Goals:

Primarily, this course aims to equip participants with tools for reading and researching about the past. Course participants will learn how to use news reports as sources of historical evidence.

Second, it provides a useful introduction to medical history across cultures for those considering a career in medicine or public health. It shows how people define illness according to particular social and cultural categories overtime. Through specific case studies, the course provides participants with an historical framework to interpret current debates in health policy and disease management.

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