In this episode of High Theory, Eram Alam talks with us about shortage. A political tool, rather than a natural lack, the concept of a shortage changes the flows of goods and people across borders and space. The concept of a doctor shortage was used in the US immigration reform of the 1960s to recruit discount elite labor from newly postcolonial nations, creating the downstream effect of shortages in their countries of origin. These recruiting practices remain in effect, with a US physician workforce that is approximately 25% international medical graduates, while domestic and international doctor shortages abound. 

Eram Alam is an assistant professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Her book The Care of Foreigners studies the enduring consequences of post-colonial migration from Asia to the US.  We’re so excited to read it when it comes out! In the meantime, you can read her article “Cold War Crises: Foreign Medical Graduates Respond to US Doctor Shortages, 1965–1975Social History of Medicine 33 no. 1 (Feb 2020). 

This week’s image of a hospital corridor was uploaded to the image sharing site Pixbay by a user named Mitrey.