Nursing History in Global Perspective
On March 15 and 16, 2012, the Rockefeller Archive Center brought together a group of thirteen historians for the third workshop on the history of nursing supported by the Archive Center. The RAC's earlier conferences in 1981 and 1993 yielded important collections of essays: Nursing History: New Perspective, New Possibilities (1983), edited by Ellen C. Lagemann and Critical Issues in American Nursing in the Twentieth Century (1993), edited by Darwin H. Stapleton and Cathryne A. Welch. The most recent gathering brought together scholars who hailed from across the globe and were connected only by a common thread of using the history of nursing to inform their own work. They included specialists in economic history, feminist theory, women's history, immigration, foreign affairs, western European history, labor history, and colonial and post-colonial history. The conveners, Patricia D'Antonio and Julie Fairman, from the Barbara Bates Center for the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, charged the group in an initial white paper to break down disciplinary silos and engage in conversations that would historicize and complicate the historical concepts of nursing and care giving. This workshop represented the first systematic opportunity to bring historians together to think about the connection between their individual scholarship, the idea of care giving, and the real impact both have on the experiences of individuals, families, communities, and states across the globe.
Patricia D'Antonio, PhD, RN, FAAN, Killebrew-Centis Endowed Term Chair in Undergraduate Education, Chair, Department of Family and Community Health, Associate Professor of Nursing,
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Editor, Nursing History Review
Julie Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Nightingale Professor in Nursing, Director, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, Robert Wood Johnson Investigator in Health Policy Research,
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
After two days of intense and engaged conversations built around participants' responses to the white paper, a number of common themes emerged. Perhaps one of the most important involved the power of nursing as an analytic lens to problematize and reconceptualize notions of citizenship, state, nation, and empire. In addition, nurses historically maintained and participated in multiple ideological networks and exchanges that transcended conventional narratives of the mission of institutions, shaping of events, and place of particular actors. The workshop participants also reaffirmed race, class, and gender as important analytic constructs, but over the two days, discussions reinforced the critical centrality of race to any global narrative. New unifying constructs built around notions of "exchanges" and "mobilities" seemed to unite the work of all participants as they return to their homes and reconstruct manuscripts that will shape an edited volume of essays, tentatively titled Relocating Nursing: Colonization, Mobilities, Migration, and Citizenships.
Hibba Abugideiri (Assistant Professor of History , Villanova University) who studies midwives in colonial Egypt and explores Islamic feminism.
Eileen Boris (Professor of Women's Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara) who uses the global experiences of women home care workers to explore the valuing of women's labor and the connections between public and private structures of care.
Catherine Ceniza Choy (Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley) who turns to trans-Pacific networks of nurses to examine the intersections of racial and gendered inequalities that challenge the emancipatorary paradigms of labor market migrations.
Winifred Connerton (Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing) whose comparative work on nurses who worked abroad for the United States Army, missionary societies, and the American Red Cross in the Philippines and Puerto Rico during the early twentieth century focuses on the nationalism experienced by these women.
Patricia D'Antonio (Killebrew-Centis Endowed Term Chair in Undergraduate Education, Chair, Department of Family and Community Health, Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Editor, Nursing History Review) who studies the history of nursing as an identity as well as a form of paid work.
Julie Fairman (Nightingale Professor in Nursing, Director, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, Robert Wood Johnson Investigator in Health Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing) who studies gender and the translation and production of knowledge across professional boundaries, and in particular the history of nurse practitioners and health policy.
Karen Flynn (Assistant Professor, African-American Studies Program, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) whose study of black Canadian, Caribbean, and British nurses in the later 20th century Diaspora points to the nuances of both inter- and intra-race relations as black and white nurses' shared identity sometimes served to mediate their particular experiences of racism and cultural dis-identification.
Julia Irwin (Assistant Professor of History, University of South Florida) who uses American Red Cross nurses in Eastern Europe and Russia as examples of how ideas about health, illness and women's roles transcend traditional nation-state boundaries.
Sioban Nelson (Dean and Professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Canada) who explores the impact of the Rockefeller Foundation on global nursing in the mid-twentieth century.
Ann Marie Rafferty (Dean and Professor in the School of Nursing, King's College, London) who studies colonial British nurses.
Pierre-Yves Saunier (Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris) who proposes a "Rockefeller Moment" in the creation of nursing as a profession, discipline, and body of knowledge that had both transnational and very deeply local manifestations.
Aeleah Soine (Assistant Professor of History, Saint Mary's College, California) who studies gender and modern European history through the ideological networks that nurses created.
Mai Yamashita (Associate Professor, Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan, and currently a visiting scholar at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London) now doing a fellowship at the Welcome Institute, London) who studies the intersections of the RN and LPN workforce in Japan.