Toward an Understanding of the 'Medical Plantation' as a Cultural Location of Disability

Rachel Dudley


This article uses Sharon Snyder and David Mitchell's concept of "cultural locations of disability" to theorize the 19th century medical plantation as a space in which black enslaved women were used as raw materials for medical-scientific advancement. The central argument is that the history can be perceived in new ways by applying the dual frameworks of black feminist theory and cultural disability theory to understand the medical plantation as a cultural location of disability. In so doing, the article demonstrates that on the 19th century medical plantation—a locality spatially separate from the agricultural plantation—black women's bodies were imagined as the ideal test subjects of research and innovation within what became modern gynecology.

Keywords: medical plantation, cultural locations of disability, slavery, nineteenth-century medicine, black feminist theory, women's health, disability theory


medical plantation; cultural locations of disability; slavery; nineteenth-century medicine; black feminist theory; women's health; disability theory

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Copyright (c) 2012 Rachel Dudley

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