An article by Dan Vergano at Buzzfeed alerts us:
Electric shocks, brain surgery, amputations — these are just some of the medical experiments widely performed on American slaves in the mid-1800s, according to a new survey of medical journals published before the Civil War.
Previous work by historians had uncovered a handful of rogue physicians conducting medical experiments on slaves. But the new report, published in the latest issue of the journal Endeavour, suggests that a widespread network of medical colleges and doctors across the American South carried out and published slave experiments, for decades.
Savitt first reported in the 1970s that medical schools in Virginia had trafficked in slaves prior to the Civil War. But historians had seen medical experiments on slaves as a practice isolated to a few physicians — until now.
to the following paper.
Kenny, S.C. Power, opportunism, racism: Human experiments under American slavery. Endeavour,
Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 10–20[Publisher Link]
Medical science played a key role in manufacturing and deepening societal myths of racial difference from the earli- est years of North American colonisation. Reflecting the practice of anatomists and natural historians throughout the Atlantic world, North American physicians framed andinscribed the bodies, minds and behaviours of black subjects with scientific and medical notions of fundamental and inherent racial difference. These medical ideas racialised skin, bones, blood, diseases, with some theories specifically designed to justify and defend the institution of racial slavery, but they also manifested materially as differential treatment – seen in medical education, practice and research.
I dunno. Have we changed all that much?