Jonathan Bell
(University College London)

“Beyond Liberation or Assimilation: LGBTQ Rights, Health Care, and the Limits of Bodily Autonomy in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s”

May 7, 2024, 4:15pm, Fakultätssaal (01-185, Philosophicum)

For many at the heart of the rights revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, these were times of revolutionary possibility in which the shackles of heteronormativity, white supremacy, and patriarchy could be thrown off. For others seeking to embed legal rights for LGBTQ people, women, and people
of color, integration into social institutions and efforts to win political respectability became core concerns. In this lecture, I argue that the structure of American capitalism, especially in the realm of health care, has always rendered distinctions between liberation and assimilation artificial and oversimplified. The question of exchanging money for a commodity – health care – forms a vitally important topic in the multiple histories of movements for bodily autonomy in the United States since the emergence of second-wave feminism and the sexual revolutions of the 1960s. The struggles to provide care in a mostly privatized system did more than simply expose the economic and social disparities within gender rights movements: debates over money, access, and consumer rights shaped the terms of identity politics in ways unique to the United States.

Jonathan Bell is Professor of US History at the UCL Institute of the Americas in London. He is the author or editor of several books on American political history, and is currently working on a history of the relationship between sexual rights and health care in the modern United States.

You can download the poster for the event here.

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