Mind-Body Medicine and Black Women’s Clubs in the Era of Jim Crow (Bullitt History of Medicine Club)
When asked why Black women formed politically minded clubs during an era of rising racial segregation and oppressive violence, one leader aptly described such efforts as “nothing less than organized anxiety.”
By exploring records of several clubs’ practices of relaxation and breathing exercises, this lecture will chronicle one of the ways that Black women “organized” their anxiety. In addition to illuminating a long-overlooked history of wellness in Black communities, the talk will address larger questions about the intersecting histories of medicine, race and health—particularly as such dynamics inform the cultural production of diagnostic conceptions and therapeutic treatments for ailments like nervousness, insomnia and indigestion.
Carrie Streeter is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California San Diego, specializing in United States history of health, gender and race. She also teaches history at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.Her dissertation, “Wings to their Heels: Self-Expression and Health and the Rise of the New Woman,” explores the corporeal expertise about mind-body medicine that women created through studies of elocution and physical culture.
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