Amy L. Fairchild

Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences,Mailman School of Public Health
Assistant Director for Scholarly and Academic Affairs, Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health


Dr. Fairchild is a historian researching the broad social forces that produce disease and shape public health policy and a public health policy analyst focused on dilemmas in the ethics and politics of contemporary debates. Guided by the understanding that history and policy do not simply represent two different worlds, she fuses these frameworks of analysis, crafting a new, historically grounded way of thinking critically about problems in a professional field.  Her work’s central intellectual theme has been to explore the functions and limits of the State, particularly when it seeks to address health issues that touch on groups marginalized by virtue of disease, class, and race. Fairchild’s book, Science at the Borders is a revisionist history uncovering the ways that the machinery of processing unskilled immigrant laborers at the nation’s borders in the early 1900’s helped to define inclusion into industrial citizenship, the state, and social power. Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State and Disease Surveillance in America focuses on policy challenges that arise when it becomes necessary to report the names of individuals with disease. Written with Ronald Bayer and James Colgrove, Searching Eyes sets controversies over surveillance for diseases and conditions, including tuberculosis, venereal disease, birth defects, occupational disease, cancer, vaccination status, and HIV against the backdrop of the changing social, political, and personal meanings of privacy. Dr. Fairchild teaches a History and Policy seminar and co-teaches the Department’s core course. She was the recipient of the Columbia’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2003.

Professor Fairchild's Departmental Biography Page

AFairchild.jpg Amy L. Fairchild
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