Fellow's Talk

What's in a Name?

MacMillan Reading Room

John Carter Brown Library

94 George Street

Providence, RI 02906

This event is free and open to the public.

woodcut image of an Indigenous Brazilian man being treated for an illness

Please join us for a talk by JCB Fellow Kristen Block (University of Tennessee-Knoxville, InterAmericas Fellow). 

What's in a Name?: (Im)moral suffering and disease naming in the early modern Caribbean

For people suffering in highly-visible ways from maladies of a moral order - called by European colonists venereal disease, yaws, and leprosy - the names given to their afflictions conjured up emotions of shame, fear, and disgust. Given that enslaved Africans were those most often considered affected by yaws and leprosy by the eighteenth century, my work investigates both how these two diseases became tied up in narratives of sexual shame, and how sufferers in the Caribbean reacted to their diagnoses.