Londa Schiebinger, "Secret Cures of Slaves: People, Plants, and Medicine in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World" (Stanford UP, 2017)

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Summary

Londa Schiebinger's new book Secret Cures of Slaves: People, Plants, and Medicine in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford University Press, 2017) examines the contexts, programs, and ethics of medical experimentation in the British and French West Indies from the 1760s to the early 19th century. Physicians were enlisted into the plantation systems to ensure the greatest profitability of the enslaved workforces. European practices, however, were ill-equipped for the tropics, and so many looked towards the knowledge of enslaved populations for effective remedies. Schiebinger analyses the circuits and structures of this knowledge exchange within the sugar plantation complex and between these islands and Europe. She brilliantly illuminates how and why some practices were adopted and appropriated, why others were prohibited, and how the colonial crucible so often resulted in the loss of vibrant medical traditions and knowledge.

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Lance Thurner

Lance C. Thurner teaches history at Rutgers Newark. His research and writing address the production of knowledge, political subjectivities, and racial and national identities in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Mexico. He can be reached at lancet@rutgers.edu.

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