Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Michigan
Website URL
race + gender + health, Black women’s history, African American history, modern American history, women's and gender studies, fitness culture, fat studies, history of medicine, reproductive justice
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am an historian and Assistant Professor of American Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. My research interests lie at the intersection of race, gender, and health. My book, Fit Citizens: A History of Black Women’s Exercise from Post-Reconstruction to Postwar America, examines how physical exercise enabled Black women to express both literal and figurative fitness for citizenship. The book captures how African American women made exercise instrumental to their ideas of health, beauty, wholesome recreation, and ideal Black corporality. It prompts us to think more literally, and in effect more critically, about how African Americans actually “exercised citizenship.” I am also at work on a second project about race and gynecology in the twentieth century.

Recent Publications

Purkiss, Ava. ‘“Beauty Secrets: Fight Fat’: Black Women’s Aesthetics, Exercise, and Fat Stigma, 1900-1930s.” Journal of Women’s History 29, no. 2 (Summer 2017): 14-37.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Gender, Medicine, Race, Women