Bones in the Basement: Postmortem Racism in Nineteenth-Century Medical Training by Robert L. Blakely, Judith M. Harrington |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Bones in the Basement: Postmortem Racism in Nineteenth-Century Medical Training

Bones in the Basement: Postmortem Racism in Nineteenth-Century Medical Training

by Robert L. Blakely, Judith M. Harrington
     
 
In 1989, a cache of some 9800 dissected and amputated human bones - more than 75 percent of them African American - was found in the earthen basement floor of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. To re-create the social context and medical practices that led to the bones' clandestine disposal before 1910, Robert L. Blakely and Judith M. Harrington assembled a

Overview

In 1989, a cache of some 9800 dissected and amputated human bones - more than 75 percent of them African American - was found in the earthen basement floor of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. To re-create the social context and medical practices that led to the bones' clandestine disposal before 1910, Robert L. Blakely and Judith M. Harrington assembled a team of archaeologists, forensic anthropologists, historians, experimental anatomists, and ethnographers. Together they argue that the procurement of cadavers by American medical schools was part of a racist system that viewed African Americans as expendable not only in life but also after death. Contributors show that notions of a separate "Negro medicine" did not prevent professors from using African American bodies to teach their students how to treat white patients. Other essays shed light on the importance of surgical training at a time when amputation was a primary means of treatment. Still others examine the bony evidence of diet and disease in a nineteenth-century urban black population. Taking a broad approach to the study of a single, well-preserved site, Bones in the Basement presents the work of both African American and Euro-American researchers and includes interviews with residents of Augusta today.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1989, workers restoring the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta made a grisly discovery: over 9000 human bonesremains of bodies autopsied by medical students and facultywere buried in the building's basement. Blakely (director, Ctr. for Applied Research in Anthropology, Georgia State Univ.) began coordinating a study of the basement's contents by a multidisciplinary team of archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, anatomists, and enthnographers. They determined that more than 75 percent of the bones were African American, silent testimony to the marginalization of Augusta's slave and free black communities. (Since human dissection was illegal in Georgia until 1887, most of the cadavers were certainly procured by grave robbers.) This book includes 12 papers originally presented at a 1995 symposium of the Society for Applied Anthropology, and readers patient with the language of professional social science will find it a creative and fascinating contribution to both medical history and African American studies. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.Kathleen Arsenault, Univ. of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560987505
Publisher:
Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.21(d)

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