Areas of Research: History of Medicine; History of Social Sciences; Global Health; Postcolonial Studies; ImmigrationEram Alam specializes in the history of medicine, with a particular emphasis on globalization, migration, and health during the twentieth century.
She is currently working on two book projects. The first, The Care of Foreigners: A History of South Asian Physicians in the United States, 1965-2017, explores the enduring consequences of postcolonial physician migration from South Asia to the United States. The project begins with the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and analyzes the transnational movements of foreign physicians through multiple physical and discursive sites - geographic, political, legal, bureaucratic, clinical, and cultural - to show how the intimate spaces of healthcare were and continue to be influenced by Cold War commitments. Invited as a short-term solution to doctor shortages in marginalized communities, Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) have since become a permanent feature of the US healthcare system, comprising at least a quarter of the physician labor force. The Cold War circumstances that inaugurated FMG arrival bear a striking resemblance to the present, with ongoing discussion of issues such as expanded health insurance, skilled labor shortage, and geopolitical “terror.” By studying the position of the foreign physician during these political moments, The Care of Foreigners puts forth an analysis of the limits of inclusion available to the immigrant.
The second book, a co-edited volume with Dorothy Roberts, is called Ordering the Human: Global Science and Racial Reason. This project brings together a disciplinarily diverse group of researchers from around the world. Collectively, they explore the malleability and situatedness of race, the work of consolidating racial ways of knowing, and the forces and flows that dictate the movement of racial concepts in scientific knowledge production.
“Cold War Crises: Foreign Medical Graduates Respond to US Doctor Shortages, 1965-1975,” Social History of Medicine (March 2018).
"Review of Doctors Beyond Borders: The Transnational Migration of Physicians in the Twentieth Century," Social History of Medicine 30, no. 3 (August 2017): 706–708.