Symposium: Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery
The History Department at Rice University invites proposals for a two-day symposium on the history of Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery. In the last three decades, scholars have increasingly identified connections between slavery and medicine. They have uncovered how medical theories and practices helped to reinforce the institution of slavery, just as enslaved people used their knowledge of healing to gain autonomy and power. Increasingly, these studies have left the narrow confines of Western biomedical ideas of health behind and expanded their scopes to consider enslaved healing traditions such as herbalism, Obeah, and conjuring. However, these narratives have remained confined by artificial temporal and national boundaries. This conference will bring together scholars of medicine, health, and slavery to explore its transnational dimensions. It seeks to breakdown temporal and geographical borders normally imposed upon these studies by including researchers examining the health histories of enslavement through various temporal and geographic prisms, including comparative slavery, the Atlantic World, and Second Slavery. This conference conceives of the Atlantic World as a singular geographic unit as well as a set of forces and exchanges that shaped local medical knowledge and disease environments in the Americas. In this sense, the conference will examine the localities as well as the channels of transmission that made up the Atlantic World and how these connections created creolized, local healing cultures.
We invite proposals that examine the histories of health in the Americas, Africa, and beyond as shaped by the connections created by the Atlantic slave trade from the sixteenth century through the abolition of slavery in Cuba and Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century. Thus, we encourage proposals from across this longue durée and urge presenters to think deeply about these temporalities.
Proposals may consider the ways in which health, medicine, and healing shaped much of the culture of Atlantic slavery, and we hope to attract papers that consider the diversity of slave experiences in the Atlantic World. Possible topics include:
History of the Body
Drugs and Pharmacopeia
The Rise of Professions
Formation of Racial Ideologies
Native American Slavery
The New History of Capitalism
The Age of Abolition and Emancipation
We will convene on Friday, February 23, 2018 at Rice University in Houston, TX, with a keynote address from Sharla Fett, Professor of History at Occidental College, and conclude on Saturday, February 24 with a keynote address from Pablo Gómez, Assistant Professor of Medical History and History of Science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Proposals should be in English and no more than 300 words. Please also include a CV. Additionally, papers presented will be considered for inclusion in a planned anthology to be published by a university press.
Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery will take place on the campus of Rice University and has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Rice University Humanities Research Center and Department of History.
Proposals must be received by September 15, 2017 and should be sent via email to MedicineandSlavery@gmail.com or mailed to:
Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery
c/o Sean Morey Smith
Department of History-MS 42
PO Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892
For more information, go to http://