Photo of Dr Stephen Kenny

Dr Stephen Kenny PhD FHEA

Senior Lecturer, 19th and 20th century North American History History

    About

    Personal Statement

    I have published extensively on the histories of race and medicine under American slavery and Jim Crow and am particularly interested in histories of hospitals, anatomy, and human experiments. I am currently working on a monograph - 'Before Tuskegee: racism, power and the culture of medicine under slavery and Jim Crow' - examining human experimentation in the United States before and after the Civil War. This book will explore and reveal: (i) historiographical myths of medical practice under slavery and racial aparthied; (ii) the deep-rooted racist nature of medical education, research and practice under slavery and Jim Crow; (iii) the career opportunities, social status and financial rewards that so-called 'negro medicine' brought for so-called white doctors; (iv) the enormous scale and intensity of the medical profession's exploitation of enslaved subjects, which only increased after slavery; (v) and Black patient experiences in the face of these pressures.

    Together with Professor Vanessa Northington Gamble (George Washington University), I am also working on an edited volume that examines the 'Histories, Myths and Legacies of [the racist, paternalistic, exploitative, surgeon-enslaver] J. Marion Sims' life and medical career.

    See the short report linked below for thoughts on Sims' troubling presence in public space:https://theconversation.com/statues-of-medical-racist-who-experimented-on-slaves-should-also-be-taken-down-82704

    My research on slave hospitals in the American South was used to develop “an entire portion of the award-winning travelling exhibition”, ‘Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave, 1808-1865,’ which opened at the Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC) on Royal Street in New Orleans in March 2015:
    Purchased Lives: New Orleans in the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808-1865 (exhibition)

    Further, below is a link to a collaborative New Orleans public radio program broadcast (Tripod: New Orleans at 300) on Touro Infirmary's First Admission Book and it's role in servicing the domestic slave trade: http://www.wwno.org/post/if-these-pages-could-talk-touro-infirmarys-first-admission-book

    Poet Dorothy Lehane responded to my research on issues relating to the history of professional medicine’s exploitation of enslaved subjects with chronic illnesses and disability, as key source material for a new poetic work:part nostrum part vermifuge

    My research on human experimentation and medical racism informed the agenda set on multiple episodes of ‘Information is the Best Medicine’, a programme broadcast on WURD Radio: the only African-American owned and operated talk radio station in Pennsylvania:Information is the Best Medicine

    The Conversation and Buzzfeed reports linked also below highlight many of the core themes and issues explored in the larger 'Before Tuskegee' project:

    The use of the enslaved as medical specimens:https://theconversation.com/how-black-slaves-were-routinely-sold-as-specimens-to-ambitious-white-doctors-43074

    The enslaved and medical experimentation in the American South:Cruel medical experiments were widespread in the American South

    For hope and inspiration, watch this recent documentary, 'True Justice', by a selfless human being who should be President of the U.S. (Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative):True Justice documentary

    Prizes or Honours

    • Stanley Jackson Award (Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 2012)

    Funded Fellowships

    • Reynolds Associates Research Fellowship in the History of the Health Sciences (The Historical Collections Unit of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham , 2013)
    • Franklin International Scholars Programme Fellow (Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia, 2012)
    • Watson-Brown Foundation Short Term Visiting Fellowship (Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina, 2009)

    Other Personal Distinctions

    • Dark Medicine and the genesis of Life and Limb (Life and Limb: the First Encounter, Liverpool University, 2015)
    • 'Slave health, negro physicians, and infirmaries for the enslaved in the antebellum South' (British American Nineteenth-Century Historians , 2008)
    • Visiting Research Fellow (Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina, 1999)
    • Visiting Research Fellow (Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina, 1996)