"Cures after Doctors Fail": A Four-Field Approach to Medicated Pain Relief in Early 20th Century America

Author(s): Jennifer A. Porter-Lupu

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Constructing Bodies and Persons: Health and Medicine in Historic Social Context" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

In this paper, I take a four field approach to medicated pain relief in early 20th century America, analyzing the way personal narratives of health and illness were created and experienced through pain relief testimonials and marketing techniques. Medical and biological anthropologists have studied the ways that pharmaceutical branding and marketing can shape embodied experiences of pain relief. Targeted advertising to particular raced and gendered demographics reflects and reproduces structural disparities in pain treatment. This paper will analyze two case studies of turn-of-the-century patent medicines intended for pain relief: ‘Mexican Mustang Liniment," which was marketed to African American consumers and ‘McElree’s Wine of Cardui,’ marketed to women. Bringing together multiple lines of evidence and techniques for analysis, I use the linguistic anthropology tools of multimodality and critical discourse analysis, archaeological approaches to material culture, biological understandings of pain mechanisms, and medical anthropological insights on relationships between medicine and social context.

Cite this Record

"Cures after Doctors Fail": A Four-Field Approach to Medicated Pain Relief in Early 20th Century America. Jennifer A. Porter-Lupu. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 448975)


branding embodiment pain

Geographic Keywords
United States of America

Temporal Keywords
20th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 137