Cleaning Up "A Blot On Civilization": Examining Archaeological Evidence Of The Medical And Scientific Regulation Of Midwifery During The Progressive Era

Author(s): Jennifer M Saunders

Year: 2019

Summary

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.

Our dominant historical narrative teaches us that the Progressive Era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a period of sweeping reform that resulted in universal improvements to the well-being of people in the United States. Archaeological evidence has the potential to bring to light examples where this has not been the case, especially where racial minorities are concerned. Rather than allow for culturally variant practices surrounding health and the body, medical and public health institutions used the guise of science and progress in an attempt to standardize these practices, ultimately to their detriment. Drawing upon my research surrounding the practice of an African American midwife in the District of Columbia, and other contemporary examples, I will examine how this movement robbed women of their bodily autonomy, erased long-held cultural knowledge, and is part of a history of medical surveillance and control of Black bodies that continues today.

Cite this Record

Cleaning Up "A Blot On Civilization": Examining Archaeological Evidence Of The Medical And Scientific Regulation Of Midwifery During The Progressive Era. Jennifer M Saunders. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 448976)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 161