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Publisher's Summary

The accomplishments of pioneering doctors such as John Peter Mettauer, James Marion Sims, and Nathan Bozeman are well documented. It is also no secret that these 19th-century gynecologists performed experimental caesarean sections, ovariotomies, and obstetric fistula repairs primarily on poor and powerless women. Medical Bondage breaks new ground by exploring how and why physicians denied these women their full humanity yet valued them as "medical superbodies" highly suited for medical experimentation.

In Medical Bondage, Cooper Owens examines a wide range of scientific literature and less formal communications in which gynecologists created and disseminated medical fictions about their patients, such as their belief that black enslaved women could withstand pain better than white "ladies". Even as they were advancing medicine, these doctors were legitimizing, for decades to come, groundless theories related to whiteness and blackness, men and women, and the inferiority of other races or nationalities.

Medical Bondage moves between southern plantations and northern urban centers to reveal how 19th-century American ideas about race, health, and status influenced doctor-patient relationships in sites of healing like slave cabins, medical colleges, and hospitals.

©2017 the University of Georgia Press (P)2019 Tantor

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  • Nate
  • 14-04-2020

Peculiar story

This title presents more as a race/gender study than medical study. The medical information within is overshadowed by the evaluation of race/gender environment of years past. Contains a marked unnecessary repetition of information, making for a longer title than necessary. Interesting story, definitely worth a listen/read

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-02-2020

Important Knowledge

This book was excellent. Dr. Cooper Owens provides history on this important topic, provides context and relevance for today, and also weaves in narratives to remind readers of the humanity.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alex Robbins
  • 28-04-2021

An Important Read

American Gynecology was built from the blood, sweat, and tears of enslaved black women. This books takes you on a historical journey through black women's pain. It is real. It is raw, and it is detailed. Hearing about the medical subjugation these women had to endure is eye opening. Hearing about the "educated guesses" male doctors made at the expense of enslaved black women, paired with the lack of recognition that many women didn't receive for their contributions is enraging.

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  • Jaecey Adams
  • 22-03-2021

Very informative and makes me furious

The origins of gynecology are based on slavery, rape and obstetrical violence towards black, Irish and other unfortunate women. I’m glad to be headed towards becoming a female gynecologist to help stop these atrocities!

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  • Rebecca Gabriela Terrones
  • 04-03-2021

Eye Opening & Heart Breaking

Systemic racism discussed in terms of gender and medicine. Amazing book for discussion on race.

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  • AuthorAnnaBella
  • 25-08-2020

Sadly, very little has changed.

I am a Registered Nurse with 25 years of experience. Sadly, I have witnessed some of the atrocities inflicted upon black / brown women during the Antebellum Era during the course of my career. I enjoyed this book for the knowledge and truths told. It broke my heart though, to see that very little has changed from the 1800 to 2020.

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