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Nayan Shah

Expert Profile

Nayan Shah

Associate Professor, History
University of California, San Diego
history of public health and medicine
Asian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries
history of gender and sexual identity in the United States


Nayan Shah is an associate professor of history at UCSD. Shah has expertise in the history of public health and medicine, the history of race, ethnicity and gender in the U.S. West, the history of the experiences of Asian immigrants to the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the historical context of gender and sexual identities in the United States. Shah writes about the individual topics and intersections of health, ethnicity, culture, and gender and sex in U.S. hstory. His book, "Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race n the Chinatown of San Francisco," was published by the University of California Press in 2001. It details how Chinese immigrants were perceived to be the source of epidemics of smallpox, syphilis and bubonic plague in the 19th century. Chinese-Americans struggled with these allegations and responded with lawsuits, boycotts and community reforms to ensure dignity and care from San Francisco city authorities in the mid-20th century. The book was awarded the 2003 History Book Award by the Association of Asian American Studies. Shah is currently working on a new study of South Asian migrant workers, sexuality and law in North America from 1900-1950. Shah joined the UCSD faculty in 2000 and teaches courses on race and ethnicity in the United States, Asian-American history, and other topics in American history. Shah received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

9500 Gilman Drive # 0104
La Jolla  California  92093
United States
Office Phone: 
(858) 822-2544
Office Fax: 
(858) 534-7283


“Racism in medicine is a national emergency.” That’s how journalist Nicholas St. Fleur characterized the crisis facing American health care this spring, as his team at STAT embarked on “Color Code,” an eight-episode series exploring medical mistrust in communities of color across the country. In this webinar, we’ll take inspiration from their work to discuss strategies and examples for telling stories about inequities, disparities and racism in health care systems. Sign-up here!

The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.


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