Christina Ramos

Christina Ramos

​Assistant Professor of History
PhD, Harvard University
MA, Duke University
BA, University of California - Davis

contact info:

office hours:

  • Monday
    2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
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mailing address:

  • MSC 1062-107-114
    Washington University
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Christina Ramos specializes in the history of medicine, especially early modern medicine, with a geographical focus on Latin America. 

 

She is especially interested in the complex intermingling of medical, religious, and indigenous cultures; the history of colonial hospitals and the provisioning of public health; the Inquisition as an archive for medical history; and the daily experience and treatment of sickness and disease.

Her first book, Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment, is forthcoming with UNC Press. A new history of madness during the eighteenth century, this book foregrounds the case of the Hospital de San Hipólito in Mexico City, the first hospital of the Americas to specialize in the care and custody of the mentally disturbed, and its growing alignment with the Inquisition and secular criminal courts, from which it often received patients. Treating San Hipólito as both a microcosm and colonial laboratory of the Hispanic Enlightenment, Ramos argues that the hopsital enacted and refracted a complex history of medicalization with religious personnel, including inquisitors, rather than doctors, at the pioneering forefront.

Ramos’s second book project, tentatively titled Nursing an Empire: Hospitals and Global Health in the Hispanic World, comprises a social history of public health and medical charity in the Spanish Empire with a focus on colonial hospitals and the nursing orders that administered them.  

She teaches courses on the history of medicine, medicine and empire, and colonial Latin America.

Publications: 

“Beyond the Columbian Exchange: Medicine and Public Health in Colonial Latin America,” History Compass 19.8 (Aug. 2021): 10-20.  

“Caring for pobres dementes: Madness, Colonization, and the Hospital de San Hipólito in Mexico City, 1567-1700,” The Americas 77.4 (Oct. 2020): 539-571.

“Medicalization and its Discontents: Gender, the History of Medicine, and Nora Jaffary’s Reproduction and its Discontents” (peer-reviewed essay for a panel publication for the Ferguson Prize), Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 29.1 (2018): 115-122.
 

Interviews:

https://humanities.wustl.edu/features/christina-ramos-bedlam-new-world-mexican-madhouse-age-enlightenment
 

Fellowships, Grants, & Awards:

Faculty Fellowship, Center for the Humanities, Washington University in St. Louis, 2020.

Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 2018-2019.

José Amor y Vázquez Fellowship, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, 2014

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Harvard University, 2012-2013

Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, Harvard University, 2011-2012

Mellon Summer Institute in Spanish Paleography, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Newberry Library, 2011

Hiebert Fellowship for Dissertation Research and Technical Training, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, 2010, 2011  

Term-Time Research Grant, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2010 

John Womack Jr. Summer Research Travel Grant, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2009 

Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship, National Academies of Sciences, 2008-2011

Duke Endowment Fellowship, Duke University, 2005-2006

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Humanistic Studies, 2004-2005
 

Courses:  

Health & Disease in World History

Humors, Pox, & Plague: Medieval and Early Modern Medicine

History of Madness

Medicine, Disease, and Empire

Introduction to Colonial Latin America

Race and Ethnicity in Latin America

Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment

Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment

Faculty Fellow, Spring 2020

A rebellious Indian proclaiming noble ancestry and entitlement, a military lieutenant foreshadowing the coming of revolution, a blasphemous Creole embroiderer in possession of a bundle of sketches brimming with pornography. All shared one thing in common. During the late eighteenth century, they were deemed to be mad and forcefully admitted to the Hospital de San Hipólito in Mexico City, the first hospital of the New World to specialize in the care and custody of the mentally disturbed.

Christina Ramos reconstructs the history of this overlooked colonial hospital from its origins in 1567 to its transformation in the eighteenth century, when it began to admit a growing number of patients transferred from the Inquisition and secular criminal courts. Drawing on the poignant voices of patients, doctors, friars, and inquisitors, Ramos treats San Hipólito as both a microcosm and a colonial laboratory of the Hispanic Enlightenment—a site where traditional Catholicism and rationalist models of madness mingled in surprising ways. She shows how the emerging ideals of order, utility, rationalism, and the public good came to reshape the institutional and medical management of madness. While the history of psychiatry’s beginnings has often been told as seated in Europe, Ramos proposes an alternative history of madness’s medicalization that centers colonial Mexico and places religious figures, including inquisitors, at the pioneering forefront.