EP84: Deirdre Cooper-Owens on Medical Bondage, Racial and Gynecological Trauma

What She Shares:

  • The relationship between slavery and modern medicine
  • Learning to read between the lines of the medical literature produced during slavery
  • The emotional strain of researching archives of enslaved people
  • Her own gynecological experience as a black woman

What You’ll Hear:

  • The racist background of gynecology and obstetrics
  • How the presumption that Black bodies feel less pain is founded in slavery
  • Understanding that the first men practicing gynecological surgeries were interested in protecting an economic system
  • Recognizing the Mothers of gynecology while respecting their privacy
  • Having an embodied since of history and homeland
  • Examining the legacy of anti-blackness and xenophobia in medicine
  • How nonviolent direct action helped fan the popularity of her book
  • Using education to dismantle the anti-black medical system
  • Attending to the maternal health of Indigenous women
  • How race and class still affect how a person is treated in a medical office
  • Allowing the present to be a part of historical studies
  • Considering that stress responses signify a healthy, coherent system
  • Understanding that black women face higher maternal health risks because of institutionalized anti-blackness, not because of their race

Deirdre Cooper Owens is a griot, and a teacher who performs may functions in her community, especially in this 21st century. Her practice is rooted in the West African and Gullah traditions of gathering and telling stories. She’s an award-winning historian and popular public speaker as well as a Professor in the History of
Medicine and Director of Humanities in Medicine Program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Dr. Cooper Owens is the author of “Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology.”

My new book drops April 13th.

Heal trauma.
awaken power.
use it for good.