Office: Modesto A. Maidique Campus, LC 303-A
Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2009
Dr. Okezi T. Otovo is Assistant Professor of History, a Core Faculty member of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program, and an Affiliate Faculty member of the Latin American and Caribbean Center. Professor Otovo teaches introductory, advanced, and graduate courses on Latin America, modern Brazil, and thematic topics such as gender, race, public health, and the social history of medicine. She received an M.A. in Latin American Studies and a Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University. Professor Otovo has extensive research experience in Brazilian archives and particularly in those in the state of Bahia. Her research interests focus on modern Brazilian social history, specifically peoples of African descent and the politics of gender and citizenship in the 20th century. Her first book “Progressive Mothers, Better Babies: Race, Public Health, and the State in Brazil, 1850-1945” analyzes the rise of the maternalist movement in Brazil as a reaction to international discourses on health and progress as well as local concerns about the deconstruction of slavery. It connects the history of changing cultural and medical ideas about mothers and children to the actual experiences of poor black and brown families in newly-formed institutions devoted to public health and social welfare. Dr. Otovo has published research articles in the Luso-Brazilian Review¬, Law and History Review, and the Revista da Associação Brasileira de Pesquisadores(as) Negros(as) as well as a number of book chapters and book reviews.
Her current project is a history of disease and social marginalization in Brazil’s 20th century. This project analyzes the ways in which impoverished and marginalized patients interacted with the clinical and scientific community. In such interactions, patients influenced the medical interpretation of disease, negotiated the attention paid to their bodies and habits, and helped to craft the role of disease in national identity.