Jennifer Johnson is a historian of medicine and a specialitist in twentieth-century North Africa. Her research explores questions of public health, nationalism, decolonization, humanitarianism, and international organizations.
Her first book, The Battle for Algeria: Sovereignty, Health Care, and Humanitarianism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), offers a new interpretation of the Algerian War (1954-1962). It foregrounds the centrality of health and humanitarianism to the nationalists’ war effort and shows how the FLN leadership constructed national health care institutions that provided critical care for the population and functioned as a protostate. Moreover, it demonstrates how the FLN’s representatives used postwar rhetoric about rights and national self-determination to legitimize their claims, which led to international recognition of Algerian sovereignty.
Her current book project entitled Statebuilding After Empire: Health Care, Family Planning and International Aid in North Africa examines the relationship between public health and statebuilding. Specifically, it explores family planning programs in postcolonial Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia and shows how newly independent regimes partnered with international organizations on this particular initiative to develop their countries and expand their national health services in the wake of decolonization.
Johnson came to Brown after teaching at the City College of New York and Lehman College. She received her BA in History from Brown University and her PhD in History from Princeton University.