Sex, Sickness, and Slavery

Sex, Sickness, and Slavery

Illness in the Antebellum South

eBook - 2012
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Marli F. Wiener skillfully integrates the history of medicine with social and intellectual history in this study of how race and sex complicated medical treatment in the antebellum South.Sex, Sickness, and Slavery argues that Southern physicians' scientific training and practice uniquely entitled them to formulate medical justification for the imbalanced racial hierarchies of the period. Challenged with both helping to preserve the slave system (by acknowledging and preserving clear distinctions of race and sex) and enhancing their own authority (with correct medical diagnoses and effective treatment), doctors sought to understand bodies that did not necessarily fit into neat dichotomies or agree with suggested treatments.
Focusing on Southern states from Virginia to Alabama, Weiner examines medical and lay perspectives on the body through a range of sources, including medical journals, notes, diaries, daybooks, and letters. These personal and revealing sources show how physicians, medical students, and patients--both free whites and slaves--felt about vulnerability to disease and mental illnesses, how bodily differences between races and sexes were explained, and how emotions, common sense, working conditions, and climate were understood to have an effect on the body.
Physicians' authority did not go uncontested, however. Weiner also describes the ways in which laypeople, both black and white, resisted medical authority, clearly refusing to cede explanatory power to doctors without measuring medical views against their own bodily experiences or personal beliefs. Expertly drawing the dynamic tensions during this period in which Southern culture and the demands of slavery often trumped science, Weiner explores how doctors struggled with contradictions as medicine became a key arena for debate over the meanings of male and female, sick and well, black and white, North and South.


Lightning Source, Inc. Ebooks
This study of medical treatment in the antebellum South argues that Southern physicians' scientific training and practice uniquely entitled them to formulate medical justification for the imbalanced racial hierarchies of the period. Challenged with both helping to preserve the slave system (by acknowledging and preserving clear distinctions of race and sex) and enhancing their own authority (with correct medical diagnoses and effective treatment), doctors sought to understand bodies that did not necessarily fit into neat dichotomies or agree with suggested treatments. Expertly drawing the dynamic tensions during this period in which Southern culture and the demands of slavery often trumped science, Weiner explores how doctors struggled with contradictions as medicine became a key arena for debate over the meanings of male and female, sick and well, black and white, North and South.

Book News
This book examines medical and lay perspectives of the body in the antebellum South. It is particularly concerned with how physicians of the period created rationales for racism, slavery, and female oppression based on medical knowledge and theories at the time. The book relies on a range of sources to understand physicians' thinking and practice, including medical journals and texts, theses and other writings of medical students, and physicians' diaries, daybooks, and letters. It also explores laymen's views, using letters and diaries from whites. Slave narratives and folklore shed light on slave perspectives. Weiner was professor of history at the University of Maine. Hough teaches history and women's studies at the University of Maine. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Urbana : University of Illinois Press, ©2012
ISBN: 9780252094071
0252094077
9780252036996
0252036999
025208053X
9780252080531
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 267 pages)
data file,rda
Additional Contributors: Hough, Mazie

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