2021
Alumni (National Fellow)

Daniel Cumming

Brunswick School/Greenwich Academy Jefferson Fellow
Degrees:
B.A. Western Washington University (2009)
M.A.T. Johns Hopkins University (2011)
M.A. The University of Chicago (2013)
Ph.D. New York University (2021)
Dream Mentor:
Nathan Connolly
Johns Hopkins University

Bio:

Daniel’s research focuses on urban history, public health, racism, and capitalism in the twentieth-century United States. His dissertation, “Health is Wealth: The Rise of a Medical Metropolis and the Remaking of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century Baltimore,” traces the development of a postwar health care economy through housing, environment, and labor politics, focusing on the transformation of neighborhoods and livelihoods among its working-class residents. In Fall 2021, Daniel will be a postdoctoral fellow with the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship at Johns Hopkins University.

Thesis Description:

Health is Wealth: The Rise of a Medical Metropolis and the Remaking of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century Baltimore
This dissertation examines the emergence of a health care economy in post-WWII Baltimore, a metropolis shaped by heavy industry but renowned for its medical institutions. It traces the growth of Bethlehem Steel on city’s periphery, then amidst the midcentury fall of steel, charts the rise of health and biomedicine at the city’s core, led by Johns Hopkins Hospital. Complicating narratives of decline, the dissertation shows instead how urban coalitions backed by federal policies remade the deindustrializing city into a booming medical metropolis. In the process, a growing working-class in care led by African American women emerged at the forefront of city politics while providing for aging blue-collar workers in declining industrial suburbs. At the intersections of metropolitan, environmental, and public health history, this dissertation centers in its analysis the toxic legacies of an industrial city invested originally in Jim Crow: historical debts embodied in contemporary rates of exposure to lead, asthma, and cancer. Black neighborhoods suffered long-term policies of racialized disinvestment and deindustrialization, especially near Hopkins Hospital, which grew in size and influence as its expanding low-wage workforce struggled in rowhouses layered with lead and predatory mortgages. In the 1970s, the city’s hospital workers unionized, and allied with the black freedom movement, secured local victories in economic and environmental justice. Such activism, however, failed to overturn political and economic transformations wrought by regional deindustrialization. Health is Wealth thus emphasizes the embedded, even embodied, toxic features of racial capitalism in a medical metropolis dedicated to health but not necessarily to care.

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