VIRTUAL EVENT: Immigration and Epidemics: An Historical Perspective

Friday, October 30, 2020 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Virtual Event

Part of the Myron Weiner Seminar Series on International Migration with guest speaker Alan Kraut, Distinguished Professor of History, American University; Past President, Organization of American Historians  

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“The Chinese Virus” or “Wu Han Flu” are some of the names coined by President Donald Trump to identify COVID-19. The resulting stigmatization of Asian Americans is just the latest example of the double helix of health and fear that is a perennial in American immigration history and has inspired calls for immigration restriction. COVID-19 has offered today’s restrictionist policymakers a rationale for using legislation designed to protect public health as justification for reducing immigration and refugee admissions as well as delaying asylum hearings. This presentation places in historical perspective the link between public health crises, especially epidemics, American immigration policy, and the American public’s xenophobic fears. 

About the speaker:
Alan M. Kraut is Distinguished Professor of History at American University in Washington, D.C.  He received his B.A. from Hunter College of the City University of New York (1968) and his M.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1975) from Cornell University. He holds a faculty appointment at the Uniformed University of the Health Sciences, the armed services medical school, and he is a Nonresident Fellow of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.  

Dr. Kraut is a past president of the Organization of American Historians, the largest professional organization of those who study U. S. history and current President of the National History Coalition, a consortium of more than 50 organizations that advocates and educates on federal legislative and regulatory issues affecting historians, archivists, political scientists, teachers, students, genealogists, and other stakeholders.

Dr. Kraut is a specialist in U.S. immigration and ethnic history and the history of medicine and public health in the United States.  He is the author or editor of nine books and over a hundred articles and book reviews. His books on immigration include, The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921 (1982; rev. 2001), American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1945 (co-authored, 1987), and Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the “Immigrant Menace” (1994). The latter volume received the Theodore Saloutos Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.  His 2003 volume, Goldberger’s War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader was  honored with the Henry Adams Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government, the Arthur J. Viseltear Prize from the American Public Health Association, and the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize from the History of Science Society. In 2007, Kraut and his wife, Deborah, co-authored Covenant of Care: Newark Beth Israel and the Jewish Hospital in America.  It received the Author’s Award of the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance. His most recent volume, Ethnic Historians and the Mainstream: Shaping America’s Immigration Story (co-edited) was published in November 2013.

Kraut’s scholarly projects have been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Philosophical Society, the National Institutes of Health, and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. In the autumn of 1996 he was the DeWitt Stetten, Jr. Senior Fellow at NIH with support from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Dr. Kraut chairs the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island History Advisory Committee of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. He has also served as a consultant to the National Park Service, and as an adviser to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. He has been an historical consultant on documentaries treating issues in immigration history and the history of medicine and public health for PBS and the History Channel. In 2017 Kraut received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society for his contributions to scholarship on immigration history. He is an elected fellow of the Society of American Historians.

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Co-sponsors:  MIT Center for International Studies

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Free and open to the public

Sponsored by the Inter-University Committee on International Migration
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The Inter-University Committee on International Migration
Since its establishment in 1974, the Inter-University Committee on International Migration has been a focal point for migration and refugee studies at member institutions, which include Boston UniversityBrandeis UniversityThe Fletcher School of Law and DiplomacyHarvard UniversityMITTufts University, and Wellesley College. The committee is chaired by MIT as a program of the Center for International Studies (CIS).

Migration Seminar Series
During each academic year, the Committee sponsors a seminar series on international migration, The Myron Weiner Seminar Series on International Migration, held at MIT's Center for International Studies. The seminars explore factors affecting international population movements and their impact upon sending and receiving countries and relations among them.

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migration, CIS, International Migration, Center for International Studies


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