Medicalizing Blackness: Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840

Regular price $ 27.95

by Rana A. Hogarth

UNC Press

10/09/2017, paperback

SKU: 9781469632872


In 1748, as yellow fever raged in Charleston, South Carolina, doctor John Lining remarked, "There is something very singular in the constitution of the Negroes, which renders them not liable to this fever." Lining's comments presaged ideas about blackness that would endure in medical discourses and beyond. In this fascinating medical history, Rana A. Hogarth examines the creation and circulation of medical ideas about blackness in the Atlantic World during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She shows how white physicians deployed blackness as a medically significant marker of difference and used medical knowledge to improve plantation labor efficiency, safeguard colonial and civic interests, and enhance control over black bodies during the era of slavery.

Hogarth refigures Atlantic slave societies as medical frontiers of knowledge production on the topic of racial difference. Rather than looking to their counterparts in Europe who collected and dissected bodies to gain knowledge about race, white physicians in Atlantic slaveholding regions created and tested ideas about race based on the contexts in which they lived and practiced. What emerges in sharp relief is the ways in which blackness was reified in medical discourses and used to perpetuate notions of white supremacy.


"...nothing short of a brilliant analysis of the hand-in-hand development of American capitalism, racism, classism, and the professionalism of anatomy: foundations of modern-day medical education/practice." -- The Journal of African American History

"This project is especially strong as Hogarth reaches across otherwise separate fields -- the British Caribbean in the final decades of debates over the slave trade and emancipation and the newly independent slaveholding United States -- to demonstrate the way that medicine tied the Greater Caribbean region together. Hogarth also effectively engages with efforts by historians of slavery to study silences in the archive (of which there are always many)." -- Isis Review

About the Author:

Rana A. Hogarth is assistant professor of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.