Thesis ID: CBB001561004

Comparing Anatomies, Constructing Races: Medicine and Slavery in the Atlantic World, 1787--1838 (2012)


Hogarth, Rana Asali (Author)

Yale University
Lederer, Susan E.

Publication Date: 2012
Edition Details: Advisor: Lederer, Susan E.
Physical Details: 266 pp.
Language: English

Comparing Anatomies, Constructing Races focuses on the ways in which white physicians defined blackness as a physiological feature with predictive medical and social value across eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave societies. This dissertation covers the period from 1787 to 1838, a time frame characterized by a peak in the trade of African bodies, the demise of slavery in the British West Indies, and an escalation of political wrangling over the future of the institution in the United States. I draw upon medical sources from the British colony of Jamaica and the state of South Carolina to analyze the way in which the wholesale embrace of Atlantic World slavery constructed a new paradigm for medical comparisons between black and white bodies. As white physicians struggled to make sense of relationships between race and health in the new disease environments, they gradually came to view blackness as a metric for gauging health and sickness. Medical comparisons of black and white mortality and morbidity were not only instrumental in reifying race, but also necessary for the development of professionalism among white physicians within slave societies. As it examines the ways white medical professionals gained legitimacy, authority, and respect by fashioning themselves as experts on matters relating to slave health, this dissertation also focuses on medical definitions of race that placed corporeal and chromatic manifestations of difference at their core. By employing a thematic, rather than strictly chronological approach, this study demonstrates the ways in which white physicians cultivated beliefs that blacks were physiologically distinct from whites even when their experiences with black patients revealed quite the opposite. Over time, these physicians observed links between race, health, and climate that ultimately provided a unifying framework about blackness-one that not only crossed geographic boundaries, but also shaped the practice of medicine, the development of medical infrastructures, and the course of social destinies. Tracing the process by which medical ideas and practice transformed race into a defining feature of social identity requires a variety of sources that reflect both the reach of the slave system, as well as the fluidity in the exchange of ideas across Atlantic World borders. As such, this project relies upon primary sources that include military correspondence (National Archives at Kew, National Army Museum), unpublished medical reports and records (Wellcome Library), medical journal articles, unpublished theses, medical society meeting minutes (National Library of Jamaica, Waring Historical Library), plantation inventories, parish vestry minutes, and public workhouse records (Jamaica Archives).


Description Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. (2012). ProQuest Doc. ID 1039010882.

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Authors & Contributors
Davis, Angela Y.
Arondekar, Anjali R
Michael Joseph
Willoughby, Christopher D. E.
Fett, Sharla M.
Schwartz, Marie Jenkins
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Women's History Review
Social History of Medicine
University of North Carolina Press
Harvard University Press
Lexington Books
Pickering & Chatto
University of South Carolina
University of California, Santa Cruz
Slavery and slaves
Medicine and race
Science and race
African Americans and science
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
21st century
20th century, late
United States
Southern states (U.S.)
South Carolina (U.S.)
Congaree National Park (United States)

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