RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Public Health, History
Area(s) of Expertise:
History of Public Health, Racial/Ethnic Disparities, Immigration, Community Health Movements, Health Services Research, Environmental/Occupational Health
Merlin Chowkwanyun’s work centers on three themes: the history of public health and health policy; racial inequality; and social movements. His dissertation examined the development of post-WWII medical care and environmental health hazards in four regions (Los Angeles, Cleveland, Central Appalachia, and New York). He is working on another book about political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. With Adolph Reed, he is writing a series of articles that question the dominant theoretical assumptions and frames in ‘racial’ disparities research. He has also been a member of research teams examining the startling rise of immigrant suburbanization and geographic dispersal that departs from historic norms – and what this means for social service provision (in health and otherwise). Merlin has a long-standing interest in using digital media to disseminate findings and data sources. He serves on a committee that digitized a 30+ year run of the Health/PAC Bulletin, an influential health policy publication that sought to fuse health activism with rigorous policy analysis. He is working to construct a database featuring thousands of previously unseen corporate documents that have emerged in recent environmental health lawsuits. Merlin was a Ph.D.-M.P.H. student in History and Public Health at the University of Pennsylvania and received his B.A. in History and Sociology from Columbia University.