American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 7-17-2019


This thesis takes up the role of secularism in modern medicine as a political doctrine that works in service of settler colonialism. I argue the Declaration of Human Rights and the World Health Organization (WHO) globally institutionalized secular ideologies in the post-World War II environment. This thesis links how this global reordering came to inform U.S. health policy by examining how government officials and medical experts drew from the WHO and framed infectious diseases as a security issue to impose a biomedical order in Indian country. By contextualizing modern medicine within a settler political economy and secular political doctrine, I demonstrate how the settler state reproduced itself through secularizing processes that sought to dismantle Native spirituality.




Secularism, Settler Colonialism, Indian Health Services

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Kathleen Holscher

Second Committee Member

David Correia

Third Committee Member

Alyosha Goldstein