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Pandemic Legacies: Health, Healing, and Medicine in the Age of Slavery and Beyond

The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, based in New York, is organising an online conference on health, healing and medicine in the age of slavery and beyond from October 6-8, 2021.

Just as the slave trade tied together the cultures and populations of four continents, it also wed together distinctive disease ecologies. The lack of local populations with exploitable labor in the Americas compelled an increase in the volume of Africans that Europeans forced into the transatlantic slave trade, setting the stage for epidemic diseases and other health issues that shaped the cultural, social, and material life of Atlantic slavery. Genocidal warfare and the destructive effects of Eurasian African epidemic diseases caused the near decimation of Indigenous populations. Yellow fever, a virus native to tropical West Africa, became a common scourge to American ports. Doctors theorizing about the virus developed racial stereotypes that posited that people of African descent were inherently immune to the virus, setting the stage for a range of healthcare disparities that reverberate today.

Taking its cue from compelling new directions in slavery studies as well as our current health crisis, the 2021 Lapidus Center Conference will explore a variety of critical issues in the history of health, healing, and medicine in the age of Atlantic slavery via a combination of keynote conversations, book chats, and panel sessions. 

All information is found on the Lapidus Center website.