P&P Live! Jim Downs — Maladies of Empire - in conversation with Vanessa Northington Gamble

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Friday, September 10, 2021 - 6:00pm

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Reexamining the foundations of modern medicine, Jim Downs shows that the study of infectious disease depended crucially on the unrecognized contributions of nonconsenting subjects--conscripted soldiers, enslaved people, and subjects of empire. Plantations, slave ships, and battlefields were the laboratories in which physicians came to understand the spread of disease. Military doctors learned about the importance of air quality by monitoring Africans confined to the bottom of slave ships. Statisticians charted cholera outbreaks by surveilling Muslims in British-dominated territories returning from their annual pilgrimage. The field hospitals of the Crimean War and the US Civil War were carefully observed experiments in disease transmission.

The scientific knowledge derived from discarding and exploiting human life is now the basis of our ability to protect humanity from epidemics. Boldly argued and eye-opening, Maladies of Empire gives a full account of the true price of medical progress.

Jim Downs is the Gilder Lehrman-National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Civil War Era Studies and History at Gettysburg College. He is the author of three books and has edited six anthologies. He has published essays in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vice, Slate, among others. He is the editor of Civil War History and a partner at History Studio, where he is also the host of the History Studio podcast. He earned his BA from the University of Pennsylvania in English; his MA in American Studies from Columbia University; his M.Phil and Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. In 2015, he was awarded a multiyear Andrew Mellon New Directions Fellowship that enabled him to earn postgraduate training in medical anthropology at Harvard University.

Downs will be in conversation with Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, PhD, the University Professor of Medical Humanities at the George Washington University. She is the first woman and first African American to hold this prestigious, endowed faculty position. She is also Professor of Health Policy in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and Professor of American Studies in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, she is Adjunct Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Throughout her career Dr. Gamble has worked to promote equity and justice in American medicine and public health. A physician, scholar, and activist, she is an internationally recognized expert on the history of race and American medicine, racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, and bioethics.

P&P Live!
Washington, DC 20008
Non Fiction
Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674971721
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Belknap Press - September 7th, 2021

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