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African Rice (Oryza glaberrima) plants growing in an agricultural field with people harvesting the crop

Medicine, Knowledge, and Power in the Atlantic Slave Trade

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

11 a.m. EDT | Online

Even as they were brutally forced from their homelands, enslaved Africans brought valuable medical and botanical knowledge with them to the Americas. Professor Carolyn Roberts highlights how African plant expertise was incorporated into 18th-century science and used to sustain the largest forced oceanic migration ever to occur in human history. She will discuss which plants enslaved Africans used, how they made medicines, and what present-day phytochemical research reveals about why these medicines were so effective.

Carolyn Roberts, Ph.D., is a historian of medicine and acclaimed educator with a joint appointment in the departments of History/History of Science and Medicine and African American Studies at Yale. Her current book project, To Heal and To Harm: Medicine, Knowledge, and Power in the Atlantic Slave Trade, will be the first full-length study of the history of medicine in the British slave trade.

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