Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College
Jim Downs is the author of Sick from Freedom: African American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction. He is currently investigating the international cholera epidemics in the nineteenth century and how the outbreak of infectious disease in the Caribbean, the American South, and in Europe helped to advance the nascent field of epidemiology. He is particularly interested in how slavery, colonialism, migration and the American Civil War produced the social arrangements for dispossessed populations to be studied in order to prove the efficacy of new theories of disease causation. In 2015-16, he received a Mellon New Directions Fellowship that will enable him to continue this research by studying medical anthropology as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard.
Downs has published articles in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Lancet. He blogs for the Huffington Post. He has published over a dozen other academic articles. He is the editor of two anthologies on writing, history, and social change, Why We Write and Taking Back the Academy.
Downs earned his PhD in History at Columbia University, his MA in American Studies also at Columbia University, and his BA in American Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an associate professor of History and American Studies at Connecticut College.