The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Project connects gender, health and history

Demonstrators march near the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase, Md., on May 11. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg News)
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Abortion. Transgender rights. Maternal mortality. Many of health’s most pressing issues are intertwined with gender — and a collaborative, peer-reviewed project looks at the tangled roots that connect our bodies to past and present.

Group blog Nursing Clio, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, was founded by a group of scholars with an interest in the intersections of gender, history and health.

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It describes itself as “a gathering site for historians, health care workers, community activists, students, and the public at large to engage in discussion of current and historical debates over medicine and the gendered body.”

That broad and ambitious scope lends itself to fascinating and varied takes on everything from war to obesity. Recent articles include historian Amanda Brennan’s look at the term “having it all” and its relationship to abortion, eugenics and race; archivist Vicky Iglikowski-Broad’s exploration of the history of menstrual products in the United Kingdom; and undergraduate Jesse Morales’s article on diversity in children’s television and its connections to mental health.

She famously said that women can’t have it all. Now she realizes that no one can.

“The personal is historical,” the blog’s authors declare — and its lineup of historians and authors proves that point again and again.

The focus is serious, the blog articles replete with footnotes and quotes. Yet Nursing Clio manages to be witty, immersive and entertaining, even as it delves into the history of some of society’s most contentious issues.

That history is as long as that of the human body, the blog suggests. A visit to Nursing Clio offers plenty to study, whether you are interested in academic topics or just curious about how gender, the body and history are intertwined.

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