ASPE Virtual Conference Opening Plenary: John Chenault – “Medicine and the Black Body”

By Dan Brown, Emory University

Social Justice was a common theme throughout ASPE’s virtual conference, and Prof. John Chenault set the tone in his opening plenary, with a moving introduction by University of Louisville colleague Carrie Bohnert. In his presentation, Medicine and the Black Body, Chenault began by clarifying the definition of race as an artificial societal construct, and presented the pseudoscience that perpetuated racism, as well as the legal precedents introduced that created a divide and a definition for what level of mixed ancestry legally qualified a person as a “Negro.” He then walked the attendees through the grim history of medicine and its treatment of African slaves and their descendants: many medical advances came at the expense of Black bodies, including unethical cadaver sourcing, experimental surgeries and studies, drug trials, and more. He then connected this painful history to present day health disparities.

He drove the concept of race as an artificial societal construct home once again by pointing out the wide prevalence of people who have both European and African ancestry. The point was clear: racial disparities in medicine are the product of racism.

Time became scarce, and Chenault had to accelerate through the remainder of his presentation. After running out of time, it was recommended that ASPE bring Chenault back for a webinar to more thoroughly present the second half of his speech. The recording of the plenary remains available for virtual conference attendees at the ASPE Center for SP Methodology. Registered members can access it here:

Publications Committee Mission: “To bring high quality reporting of current research, trends, techniques and information regarding SP methodology and other relevant industry articles to the attention of the membership through the web-based ASPE eNews blog.”

Please provide comments, questions or suggestions about the ASPE eNews Blog here.

Share this post:

Comments on "ASPE Virtual Conference Opening Plenary: John Chenault – “Medicine and the Black Body”"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment