Tag: colonialism

When Pain is Political: Paulette Nardal and Black Women’s Citizenship in the French Empire

October 12 marks the 122nd anniversary of the birth of Martinican writer and intellectual Paulette Nardal. It also marks 79 years since Nardal survived one of the first maritime attacks of World War II. She was travelling from the then-French colony of Martinique to Paris when her ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Her… Read more →

The Persistence of Félicité Kina: Kinship, Gender, and Everyday Resistance

In January of 1803, the sixteen-year-old Félicité-Adelaïde Kina (née Quimard) traveled from Paris to Pontarlier to protest the imprisonment of her stepson Zamor and her husband Jean for allegedly inciting revolution in British-occupied Martinique two years earlier. All three had been deported from the Caribbean island to England in 1801 and then detained in France… Read more →

Sex, Death, and Atole at the Royal Indian Hospital

Mexico City, 18th Century For the wounded, diseased, and ailing of Mexico City, just about anything was better than the Royal Indian Hospital. By the 18th century it had been around awhile. King Philip II had established the Indian Hospital in the 1560s in a haphazard attempt to demonstrate the Crown’s supposed “piety and love… Read more →

Locating Enslaved Black Wet Nurses in the Literature of French Slavery

In George Sand’s 1832 idealist novel, Indiana, the eponymous protagonist is raised alongside her sœur de lait or “milk sister” Noun in the French Indian Ocean colony of Île Bourbon (present day Réunion). A “milk sister” was the daughter of the often enslaved wet nurse, and under French slave laws, children of enslaved women carried… Read more →

Lizards and the Idea of Mexico

In the summer of 1782, Don Juan de Luna, a respected elder citizen of the City of Mexico, nearly choked on a lagartija, a lizard, when he ate it to ease the throbbing tumor on his tongue. The details are foggy, but he likely followed the protocol established by his medical counsel, the celebrated physicist,… Read more →

Health Care in Colonial Peruvian Convents

Last May I had the opportunity to conduct archival research in Arequipa, Peru. I went in search of fodder for my new research project on health and healing in colonial Latin American convents. I was not disappointed because not only did I find a bundle of fascinating documents, but I also got to ramble the… Read more →

Fleas, Fleas, Fleas

In September, I turned on Democracy Now! and came into a story about the mass extinction of a third of the world’s parasites. Although I made sure that my response to the story included the morally and ethically correct alarm and horror, I must admit my initial response was relief. After all, parasites are, um,… Read more →

The Magic Liquid that Guarantees the Life of the Infant: Breast Milk as a Superfood

“Try squirting milk on that.” I stopped keeping track of how many times someone recommended healing my newborn’s ailments with a direct application of breast milk. From the time my husband cut a nail too short to a slightly more serious case of pink eye, my friends and family had come to regard breast milk… Read more →

“Just Close Your Eyes and Chew!”: Spirulina, Modernization, and the “Lost” Crops of the Past

On February 20, 2017, the young nation of South Sudan declared that it was suffering famine in several regions of the country.1 It was the first of several nations, including Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, that have begun to suffer severe food scarcity this year, resulting in what is arguably the largest humanitarian crisis in decades…. Read more →