Photo of Dr Stephen Kenny

Dr Stephen Kenny PhD FHEA

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


    Personal Statement

    Stephen Kenny has published extensively on the histories of race, health, and medicine under American slavery and Jim Crow and is particularly interested in histories of hospitals, anatomy, and human experiments. He is currently working on a couple of book-length publications. 'Before Tuskegee: racism, power and the culture of medicine under slavery and Jim Crow' examines human experimentation in the United States before and after the Civil War, which was by no means rare in either time period. The other book project is an edited volume that brings together historical documents of various sorts and critical commentary on a lightning rod of sexism, racism, and power, James Marion Sims, a physician-slaveholder who worked at the heart of a massive slave-trading district in Montgomery, Alabama, and was once known as the 'Father of Gynecology'.

    Below is a link to a (relatively) recent podcast on the theme of Scientific Racism and Race Science produced by the Philadelphia based Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, which examines the career of surgeon Rudolph Matas, the so-called "father of vascular surgery,” and demonstrates how Matas' life and work must be understood in the context of segregation in the U.S. South and the racialized medicine that was practiced there in the 19th and 20th centuries. The podcast also highlights the ways in which Matas used medical photography to legitimate an ideologically driven racialized research agenda. There's so much more to reveal about Matas and his colleagues ... in due course.Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine: Perspectives on "Race Science" and Scientific Racism

    Some of Kenny's research on 'hospitals' that warehoused and patched-up enslaved people during the era of the 'Second Middle Passage' in the United States was used to develop “an entire portion of the award-winning exhibition”, ‘Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808-1865,’ which opened at the Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC) on Royal Street in New Orleans in March 2015, with an associated program of educational talks touring across Louisiana and a number of other locations across the U.S.'Purchased Lives: New Orleans the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808-1865'

    The same research also featured in a radio broadcast series/podcast for New Orleans public radio (WWNO) exploring selected moments from 300 years of the Crescent City's history:If These Pages Could Talk: Touro Infirmary's First Admission Book;Tripod: New Orleans at 300

    Poet Dorothy Lehane responded to one examination of the exploitation of enslaved subjects with chronic illnesses and disability, with this excellent poem, published in the online journal Black Box Manifold:Dorothy Lehane 'Part Nostrum, Part Vermifuge'

    Together with Glenn Ellis, on his topical Black public health information show, on WURD Radio (the only African-American owned radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Kenny discussed the histories and legacies of racially prejudiced medical thought and unethical medical research:Glenn Ellis 'Information is the Best Medicine

    Prizes or Honours

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