Medicine and the Making of Race, 1440-1720 is a four-year UKRI FLF-funded project which seeks to explore the role of medical practitioners in the early years of the slave trade, and the relationship their practical experiences had to early modern ideas of ‘race’.
This project aims to uncover and analyze practical medical attitudes to enslaved and free Black Africans in early modern Europe, and in early modern Europeans’ global encounters. It addresses several key research questions:
How did medical practitioners contribute to the earliest global encounters?
What role did they play in the increasingly systematic enslavement of African peoples, both in Europe and in the New World?
Did African communities provide alternative medical treatments, and if so, how did European medicine encounter and react to these practices?
How did medical treatment of “foreign bodies” inform practitioners’ attitudes to human difference? How did medical conceptions of difference inform developing ideas “race”?
The Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture is an interdisciplinary forum created to discuss research related to images of slavery and the slave trade as well as the creation and use of images and objects by enslaved peoples and slaveholders. Our aim is to explore the multivalent relationship between slavery and visual cultures, examining themes such as visuality and memory of the slave trade; the role of the gaze and surveillance in slave societies and societies with slaves; regional comparisons of visual regimes associated with slavery; visual culture’s connection to racialized regimes of slavery; and the roles played by self-fashioning and the accumulation of visual capital by the enslaved.
The images in Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. Our growing collection currently has over 1,200 images. This website is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public – in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World.