Harriet Washington Lecture: Dark Speculum: African Americans, Science, and the Feminine Ideal

Thursday, March 14, 2019
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM (ET)
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Event Type
Lecture - Speaker
Karen Todd
CIS/ Africana Studies

The speculum in the title refers to tools such as that wielded by James Marion Sims and other “women’s doctors,” but it also refers to the distorting mirror still held up to female descendants of Africans in the US.  The terrible vulnerability of such women owes much to their unflattering images that have long been promulgated by science of bestial, hypersexed, unintelligent beings who were mere pretenders to human status.  This widespread image constitutes sociobiological fetters as effective as enslavement itself to render black women powerless against medical exploitation – from experimental surgeries to indictment as the indifferent mothers of mythical “crack babies.” Racial slander also hampers African Americans’ acceptance as medical practitioners.  More recently, black women have been selectively demonized by corporate polluters and their own government officials when they opposed environmental racism.

Harriet Washington is an award-winning medical writer and editor, and the author of the best-selling book, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (2007) and her newly-released book, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind (2019).  Her work focuses mainly on bioethics; the history of medicine; African-American health issues; and the intersection of medicine, ethics, and culture.  As a medical ethicist, Harriet Washington deconstructs the politics around medical issues and paints a powerful and disturbing portrait of medicine, race, sex, and the abuse of power by telling individual human stories.

Co-sponsored by: Africana Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies; Student Government Association; CIS-Concentrations Support; Office of Diversity and Inclusion; English Department; Sociology and Anthropology; Department of Multicultural Education; Psychology Department; Health Professions Advising; Biology Department; Black Student Union; Philosophy Department; Feminist Forum; Montserrat Global, Natural World, Self, Divine, Contemporary Challenges Clusters; Religious Studies; Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Education Department; Political Science Department; History Department; MEChA

Open to the Public

Open to the Public

Categories: Africana Studies,Biology,Education,English,Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies,History,Sociology and Anthropology,Center for Interdisciplinary Studies,Health Professions Advising,Peace and Conflict Studies,Office of Diversity and Inclusion,Office of Multicultural Education,Latin American and Latino Studies,Montserrat,Philosophy,Political Science,Psychology,Religious Studies

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