Nic John Ramos is an Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies and holds an affiliate appointment with the Center for Science, Technology, and Society. He has previously served as a Ford Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Race, Science, and Society (PRSS) at the University of Pennsylvania and as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of Race in Science in Medicine at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ), the Department of Africana Studies, and the Cogut Institute.
Professor Ramos is the recipient of the Committee of LGBT Historian’s Audre Lorde Prize, the Western History Association’s Ray Allen Billington Prize, and the Journal of History of Medicine and Allied Science’s Stanley Jackson Prize.
His research and teaching interests are broadly interested in the histories of Race, Gender, Sexuality, Medicine, and Capitalism. His current book manuscript project, Health as Property: Making Poverty, Race, and Sexuality Productive in Global Los Angeles, 1965-1986, examines the development of new public health institutions as economic development programs in the late twentieth century. It investigates neighborhood clinics, community mental health centers, and emergency medical systems nationally piloted as citizen action programs in a Los Angeles County hospital and Black-led Medical School built as a response to the 1965 Watts Uprisings called King-Drew Medical Center. In it, Ramos argues, by the 1980s, this suite of health institutions functioned with the remaking of Jim Crow segregation, enlarged police outfits, and more highly securitized state hospitals to manage worklessness, undocumented immigration, and working poverty resulting from post 1960s global economic restructuring. His reading of archival documents reveals politicians, medical experts, and health policy makers mobilized consumerist discourses of health and moral uplift embedded in the racial and sexual liberalism of 1960s and 1970s social movements to reform the supposed “backwards” spatialized sexuality, reproductive politics, and “culture” of queer, undocumented, and people of color living in urban poor neighborhoods. As an urban “safety net” for the medically indigent, these public health institutions renewed policing of queer, undocumented, and poor Black and Brown people while buffeted profitable health markets outside “medically underserved areas” from collapse.
His scholarship reveals how Atlantic World medicine and its anti-black, anti-immigrant real estate logics helped shape and re-shape the gendered employment, healthcare, and welfare policies of the North American West. In addition to demonstrating how racial and sexual liberalism can be constitutive of, not antithetical to, the punitive logics of policing and medical discrimination, the project also contributes to new perspectives on the history of race, sexuality, capitalism, and new medical knowledge by bridging the fields of political economy with Black feminism, queer of color history, and disability studies. It additionally sheds light on the nature and reach of “carceral society” by extending studies of the prison and the police to institutions outside the boundaries of law enforcement institutions.
Professor Ramos’s teaching draws on his broad training in the fields and methods of geography, science and technology studies, and Ethnic Studies and gender studies to teach 20th Century African American History, LGBT History, the histories of medicine and psychiatry, and social movement history. At Drexel, Professor Ramos teaches courses on the history of medicine, policing, and social movements from the perspectives of subjects and scholars of color who identify as Black, working class, feminist, disabled, trans, and queer. These courses include “Civil Rights History,” “The History of Policing Homosexuality,” “History of the AIDS Pandemic,” “Freedom, Medicine, and Slavery,” and “Freedom, Medicine, and Slavery’s Afterlives.” In addition to these courses, Professor Ramos teaches a special course which explores methods and approaches to researching marginalized voices in the archive called “Problems in the Archive.”
As a first generation doctorate of color who teaches subjects that attract many queer, disabled, and of color students to his classroom, Professor Ramos’s teaching philosophy prepares students to empathize and effectively advocate marginalized perspectives in both scholarly and everyday settings. Students, for instance, turn AIDS oral history recordings from the William Way LGBT Center’s John Wilcox Archives into podcasts . In 2021, Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences awarded Professor Ramos a Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence award for his inclusive and innovative teaching pedagogy.