Tag: slaves

Bioethics News

Nature Eds: Removing Statues of Historical Figures Risks Whitewashing History

September 6, 2017

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The statues of explorer Christopher Columbus and gynaecologist J. Marion Sims stand at nearly opposite corners of New York City’s Central Park, but for how much longer? Both monuments have been dragged into a nationwide debate about memor­ials to historical figures who have questionable records on human rights. The arguments are long-standing, but were thrown onto the world’s front pages last month when protests against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, produced racially charged violence.

Last week, the Central Park Sims statue — one of many that stand in numerous US cities — was vandalized. The word ‘racist’ was spray-painted alongside his list of achievements, which include life-saving techniques he developed to help women recover from traumatic births. Yet many protest about the lionization of this ‘father of modern gynaecology’ because he performed his experiments on female slaves.

… Read More

Image: By Infrogmation of New Orleans – Infrogmation of New Orleans, 19 May, 2017.Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59320889

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Research Ethics Roundup: Pregnant Women and Zika Vaccine Research, National LGBTQ Health Study Launches, New Mouse Study on Sexual Dimorphism, “The Bioethics of Remembrance”

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup looks at why researchers are not enrolling pregnant women in the early phases of Zika vaccine research, a new LGBTQ study that seeks to address participants’ health concerns, a new study that shows the sex of a mouse affects certain traits, and Dr. Susan Reverby’s case for making changes to a monument that fails to note how a prominent gynecologist used slaves in his experiments.

The post Research Ethics Roundup: Pregnant Women and Zika Vaccine Research, National LGBTQ Health Study Launches, New Mouse Study on Sexual Dimorphism, “The Bioethics of Remembrance” appeared first on Ampersand.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The Hidden Story of Medical Experimentation on Caribbean Slave Plantations

The new book, “Secret Cures of Slaves: People, Plants, and Medicine in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic,” zeroes in on human experimentation on Caribbean slave plantations in the late 1700s. Were slaves on New World sugar plantations used as human guinea pigs in the same way African-Americans were in the American South centuries later?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

When a doctor calls a patient a racial slur, who is hurt?

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

Last week Lexi Carter, a black woman from Tennessee had an experience that so many other black people have had, a racially charged visit with a doctor. When Carter walked into her doctor’s office, Dr. James Turner greeted her with “Hi Aunt Jemima.” During the visit, he proceeded to call her Aunt Jemima more than once. Carter’s encounter with Dr. Turner is problematic for many reasons: 1. The term “Aunt Jemima,” which is the name of a popular syrup and pancake mix whose packaging depicts the face of a black woman, has a long history of racism dating back to the late 1800s; 2. Dr. Turner made these remarks in front a physician assistant trainee and a student who are still learning about the field of medicine; 3. After admitting to making the remark, Dr. Turner said that the term “was not intended to show disrespect for Ms. Carter,” calling it a “misspoken blunder.”

Aunt Jemima is a reflection of the “mammy” archetype that can be found in films, television shows, and literature (e.g. Calpurnia in “To Kill a Mocking bird” or Mammie in “Gone with the Wind”). The archetype depicts a larger black woman who is usually wearing an apron over a tattered dress, her hair is usually tied up with a scarf of some sort (typical of black slaves who tied their hair up to help protect from lice). The mammie character is also typically responsible for caring for the homes and children of white slave owners (i.e. house slaves), and who speaks using vernacular typical of uneducated black slaves, a vernacular that is usually mocked for being simple and unrefined unlike that of the vernacular of white people.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Walk In or Get Out: Overcoming Distrust of Medicine to Improve Outcomes

by Jennifer Cohen                                         

“Get Out” Universal 2017    

“Get Out” Universal 2017    

“Get Out” Universal 2017    

“Frankenstein” Universal 1931

“Frankenstein” Universal 1931

“Frankenstein” Universal 1931

Popular culture has long provided an outlet for feelings of powerlessness toward medicine. 19th century novels Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau tapped into fears that medicine would cruelly pursue scientific knowledge at the expense of human life. Two recent films, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Get Out, examine the anxieties and mistrust that African Americans, in particular, experience toward the medical community in the modern era.  

Henrietta Lacks depicts a historical breach of ethics by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, whose work obscured the identity of Ms. Lacks’ “immortal” cell line and withheld attribution both to Ms. Lacks and her family for decades. In the film, this wrong exacerbates over time as the family struggles emotionally to understand the uses of their mother’s cells and to accept their mother’s consent was never considered necessary. Indeed, the family believed that members of their community were routinely used for experimentation without their consent: they tell journalist Rebecaa Skloot that, as children, they were warned by their parents to get off the streets at night or “Hopkins people” would snatch them up.

In Get Out, a nightmarish surgical practice occurs in which a neurosurgeon and psychiatrist lure African Americans to their home for use as receptacles for white brains in a bid for white immortality. Both of these films explore the premise that African-Americans should be afraid medicine will treat them differently from white individuals.

The ugly history of abuse toward African Americans in the name of medical research was extensively documented in 2006 by the bioethicist Harriet A.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Lincoln in the Bardo in the Bardo/ by Russell Teagarden

Russell Teagarden is an Editor of the NYU Literature Arts and Medicine Database and helped lead the Medical Humanities elective at the School of Medicine this past winter. In this blog post, he experiments with creating a text collage from recent reviews of George Saunders novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

Author’s note:
George Saunders is well known for his inventive and affecting short stories. Lincoln in the Bardo is his first novel, and as described by Charles Baxter in his review in the April 20, 2017 issue of The New York Review of Books, it “doesn’t resemble any of his previous books…nor does it really resemble anyone else’s novel, present or past. In fact, I have never read anything like it.” The story is told by a chorus of spirits or ghosts in a “bardo,” which is a Tibetan limbo of a sort for souls transitioning from death to their next phase. Saunders rarely gives any individual spirit more than 2 or 3 lines of dialog, and he intersperses short snippets from historical textsasome real, some notato provide contextual background. Of particular interest to the medical humanities community will be the focus on the well-trodden subject of grief through this experimental approach. The book has attracted the attention of many serious critics, so many in fact, that they can be assembled into a chorus to derive a review of the book in the book’s format. I have thus taken excerpts from published reviewsamost real, a few notato produce a review that covers how the book is laid out (I), how the bardo works (II), how the story flows (III), and how it’s critically received (IV) as can be told by a chorus of reviewers in a bardo of their own.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Freedom and Rebellion in Westworld

(Warning: spoilers ahead.)

HBO’s series Westworld ended its first season earlier this month with the beginnings of what seems to be a revolt by the robotic “hosts” against the human beings who made them and boss them around. The show might appear, then, to conform to a great cliché in human-created-monster stories: that we will know we have created something that has a human-like consciousness when it seeks to kill us.

This thought is not necessarily crazy. Given the available natural means to reproduce ourselves, constructing a human-like being can already itself be seen as an act of negation of the given that is distinctly human, so in turning against us our manufactured progeny would simply be acting out a truth of their origins.

Or again, it is a well-established idea following from Hegel’s dialectic of mastery and slavery that the slave comes to be recognized as an equal to the master when the slave freely risks his or her life in a battle for said recognition. Something of the same dynamic might be seen in Westworld, even if some of the hosts see themselves as already superior to their erstwhile masters. Maeve and Dolores, for example, both imply that they are more durable than human beings, having achieved a kind of immortality via the potential for endless reconstruction. (Dolores says that mankind will go the way of the “great beasts” that once roamed these parts; tomorrow belongs to me!) Strictly speaking, hosts may not be risking their lives when they rise up. Indeed, Maeve’s plan prior to her escape counts on her ability to “die” and be reborn at will.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, STANDING @ THE SCRATCH LINE: Bioethics meets real Cross Cultural Competency

Director July Dash (Daughters of the Dust and Scratch Line)
at the MVFF 39 October 14, 2016

As a member of  the National Writers Union and affiliate of  the International Federation of Journalists, it is my profound honor to represent the California Film Institute in presenting  director Julie Dash the Mill Valley Film Festival Award. This award honors the excellence of  her lifetime body of work.” —None of  these words could I have imagined coming from my mouth. But, on October 12, 2016, that is what I said at the 39th Mill Valley film festival. MVFF is one of the longest running Film Festival’s in North America with an audience this year of more than 65,000. 

Recently digitally remastered by the Coleman Library, director Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST aesthetic remains incomparable with a message persistently timely. An African American family prepares to leave their Gullah Island home. They and their descendants have lived on that land since long before the Emancipation Proclamation. Tensions between the power of the familiar and perils of a new existence are made abundantly clear by a matriarch. She is a first degree relative to those brought as slaves from Africa. 

The re-released version of DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, screened at the MVFF39, was preceded by the premiere of Dash’s provocative new short film, STANDING @ THE SCRATCH LINE. This new work is a part of the Great Migration Project. It lyrically traces the arrival of the first Africans on the Gullah Island shore their generations of migration from the Gullah Geechee Lowcountry to Philadelphia, PA.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals – August 2016 by Anna Zogas

Here are some of the articles published in the journals in August 2016. This post includes the abstracts from a special issue of Anthropology & Medicine, “Medical Pluralism and Beyond.” Enjoy!

American Ethnologist

The postneoliberal fabulation of power: On statecraft, precarious infrastructures, and public mobilization in Brazil
João Biehl

In Brazil’s hybrid government of social protection and market expansion, there is under way a fabulation of power, which ultimately serves to “de-poor” people seeking care, working infrastructures, and justice while also shoring up state politics as usual. This process became evident through the failure of a collaborative research project that I coordinated on right-to-health litigation. In rethinking that failure as an experiment in public ethnography, I draw on core disagreements with public officials over the interpretation of our findings from a legal database. Analyzing these disagreements provides an entry point into the mechanisms of veridiction and falsification at work in Brazil, whose government sees itself as providing public goods beyond the minimum neoliberal state. Countering state mythology, public ethnography thus illuminates the improvised quality of postneoliberal democratic institutions and opens up new avenues for theorizing power and the political field.

Royal pharmaceuticals: Bioprospecting, rights, and traditional authority in South Africa
Christopher Morris

The translation of international biogenetic resource rights to a former apartheid homeland is fostering business partnerships between South African traditional leaders and multinational pharmaceutical companies. In the case of one contentious resource, these partnerships are entrenching, and in some instances expanding, apartheid-associated boundaries and configurations of power. The state and corporate task of producing communities amenable to biodiversity commercialization and conservation is entangled with segregationist laws and spatial planning.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Confronting Race Issues in Medicine


As I am writing this, our nation is
mourning both the death of several police officers in Dallas, and the end of
two more young black men’s lives at the hands of police in Minnesota and
Louisiana.
  The issues of racial
prejudice, racial distrust, and racial profiling and stereotyping affect every
aspect of American life and culture, and so medicine is certainly not an
exception.
  Despite what I would wish, I
know that I have racial prejudices, and perhaps at times my patients can sense
them. But if medicine in non-unique in its racism, it bears a special
responsibility to heal itself so it can best heal others.


            I
remember a few years ago when I was still working in Oregon, I received the
evening sign-out from my partner as I took over the management of Labor and
Delivery for the night shift.
  In room 8,
she reported, there was an African-American woman with her partner.
  Labor was progressing slowly, and she would
need a check soon.
  My partner commented
that they seemed to have a lot of questions, and seemed a bit suspicious of her
decisions.
  I went in a few minutes later,
wary of what kind of reception I might receive.
 
True to my fears with the patient was a young black man wearing a hoodie
with the hood shading his face in an already dark room.
  I braced myself for a potentially contentious
discussion, and asked them how things were going from their perspective.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.