Race, place, and power in the production of medical knowledge: Perspectives from the Greater Caribbean

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Over the past 10 years, the Greater Caribbean has emerged as an instructive historical concept for scholarly studies on slavery, race, disease, climate, commerce, and culture. During the era of Atlantic World slavery, this region spanned the Carolinas to the Caribbean, was home to racially diverse inhabitants, new diseases, flora and fauna typically not found in Europe, and climates that were equally as unfamiliar. Scholars have increasingly come to recognize this space as an ideal one for studying knowledge production about health and race. On the topic of race, in particular, the Greater Caribbean provided the context in which white commentators challenged or affirmed notions of innate racial difference through what they witnessed while living in the region. Questions about race, disease, climate and constitutions, could be posed at any locale; however, the ability to make side-by-side comparisons of how living, breathing Black and white bodies experienced sickness, treated illness, and labored in distinctive disease environments and climates was easier done in the Greater Caribbean than in Europe. Bearing that in mind, we should strive toward recognizing how knowledge about human bodies produced in Europe and the Caribbean worked in tandem to reify race. A number of scholars have made just that point, and amplified the significance of this region in contributing to the development and circulation of knowledge about race, as well as medical therapeutics, and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12694
JournalHistory Compass
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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