Dr. Okezi T. Otovo is Associate Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies and Affiliate Faculty of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center and of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at Florida International University. She is author of Progressive Mothers, Better Babies: Race, Public Health, and the State in Brazil, 1850-1945 (University of Texas Press, 2016); a study that connects the history of cultural and medical ideas to the experiences of poor black families in institutions devoted to public health and social welfare within the context of abolition and state-building. Her current research investigates black maternity, racial disparities in health, and women’s life experiences in Miami (20th century). It analyzes black women’s bodily epistemologies in relation to their life histories, including experiences of sexuality, pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. At FIU, she teaches introductory, advanced, and graduate courses on Latin America, modern Brazil, and thematic topics such as gender, race, public health, and the social history of medicine. Dr. Otovo has published research articles in the Luso-Brazilian Review, Law and History Review, and the Revista da Associação Brasileira de Pesquisadores(as) Negros(as) as well as a number of book chapters and book reviews. She leads “The Black Mothers Care Plan: Reducing Racial Bias and Supporting Maternal and Infant Health,” a major research and community engagement project sponsored by The Children’s Trust. Dr. Otovo has also lead community projects such as “From Moments to Movements: Story-Telling as Epistemology in Black Maternal Health” and “Perspectives on Black Motherhood and Health,” a reading and discussion group funded by Florida Humanities, as a well as a public history collaboration with the Blanche Ely House Museum, a division of the Cultural Affairs Department in the City of Pompano Beach, FL.
Within the profession, Dr. Otovo currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Studies Association.