100 books like Medicalizing Blackness

By Rana A. Hogarth,

Here are 100 books that Medicalizing Blackness fans have personally recommended if you like Medicalizing Blackness. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of There Are No Slaves in France: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

Sue Peabody’s book on the death of the “free soil principle” in France is a milestone in legal history. Beginning in 1315, when Louis X signed the letters patent that forever associated the words French and France with the eradication of slavery, anyone who was bonded or a serf was supposedly “free” when stepping foot in France. This tenet began to fall apart in 1716, when the then Regent created a loophole for slaveowners returning to France with their enslaved servants. Peabody takes us deep into the legality (and illegality) of slavery on French soil as well as several illustrative court cases. There are No Slaves in France is a model of how archive-extracted research can be woven into a riveting and revealing story. A must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between mercantilism, race, and the legal statutes that created and legislated different categories of people.  

By Sue Peabody,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked There Are No Slaves in France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There Are No Slaves in France examines the paradoxical emergence of political antislavery and institutional racism in the century prior to the French Revolution. Sue Peabody shows how the political culture of late Bourbon France created ample opportunities for contestation over the meaning of freedom. Based on various archival sources, this work will be of interest not only to historians of slavery and France, but to scholars interested in the emergence of
modern culture in the Atlantic world.


Book cover of The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

Roxanne Wheeler’s The Complexion of Race occupies an important place in both our libraries. Rare are the books that deal with the complexities of human complexions with such subtlety. Wheeler does not start off by assuming the existence of a monological or commonly shared understanding of race; she charts the numerous causal flows that produced the early-modern discussion of the human, including the “empire of climate,” natural history (physiology and anatomy), and the fact that the British (Protestant) way of life became the benchmark for measuring all things foreign. 

By Roxann Wheeler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complexion of Race as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1723 Journal of a Voyage up the Gambia, an English narrator describes the native translators vital to the expedition's success as being "Black as Coal." Such a description of dark skin color was not unusual for eighteenth-century Britons-but neither was the statement that followed: "here, thro' Custom, (being Christians) they account themselves White Men." The Complexion of Race asks how such categories would have been possible, when and how such statements came to seem illogical, and how our understanding of the eighteenth century has been distorted by the imposition of nineteenth and twentieth century notions of race on…


Book cover of Ape to Apollo: Aesthetics and the Idea of Race in the 18th Century

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

David Bindman was among the first scholars to dive deeply into the critically important relationship between aesthetics (including standards of beauty) and the emergence of race within the nascent human sciences. Bindman is a very careful scholar who, in addition to being a superb art historian, pays careful attention to the subtle shifts in terminology (and iconography) that reflect substantive changes in the way that non-European groups were seen and depicted during the Enlightenment era, be they “savages,” Blacks, or Asians. Scholars of race will find unexpected links between aesthetics and race here, including Winckelmann on the link between climate and the supremacy of Greek statues – or Lavater’s aesthetic-driven understanding of human physiognomy. Since it was first published in 2002, this beautifully illustrated book opened up a whole field of research.

By David Bindman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ape to Apollo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ape to Apollo is the first book to follow the development in the eighteenth century of the idea of race as it shaped and was shaped by the idea of aesthetics. Twelve full-color illustrations and sixty-five black-and-white illustrations from publications and artists of the day allow the reader to see eighteenth-century concepts of race translated into images. Human "varieties" are marked in such illustrations by exaggerated differences, with emphases on variations from the European ideal and on the characteristics that allegedly divided the races. In surveying the idea of human variety before "race" was introduced by Linneaus as a scientific…


Book cover of Dark Side of the Light: Slavery and the French Enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Author Of Who's Black and Why? A Forgotten Chapter in the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

From my list on race and the enlightenment.

Who are we?

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-two books; he's also the host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. Andrew Curran is a writer and the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan University. His writing on the Enlightenment and race has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more. Curran is also the author of the award-winning Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely and The Anatomy of Blackness.

Henry's book list on race and the enlightenment

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Andrew Curran Why did Henry love this book?

The philosopher and polemicist Sala-Molins fired a bow shot across Enlightenment scholarship with this book in 1992. In an era when most French scholars of the Enlightenment continued to study (and valorize) the figureheads of the era, Sala-Molins attributed the supposed silence of the philosophes regarding the horrors of chattel slavery to deep-seated racism. More polemically he called out individual thinkers such as Voltaire and Montesquieu, the latter of whom Sala-Molins memorably called a négrier or slave trader. Peu importe or little does it matter that the book itself is rife with historical inaccuracies. The Dark Side of the Light was and is a powerful cri de coeur directed at scholars of the eighteenth century, a plea for them to look more carefully at the legacies – good and bad – that we now associate with the Enlightenment. 

By Louis Sala-Molins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dark Side of the Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau and Montesquieu are best known for their humanist theories and liberating influence on Western civilization. But as renowned French intellectual Louis Sala-Molins shows, Enlightenment discourses and scholars were also complicit in the Atlantic slave trade, becoming instruments of oppression and inequality.

Translated into English for the first time, Dark Side of the Light scrutinizes Condorcet's Reflections on Negro Slavery and the works of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Diderot side by side with the Code Noir (the royal document that codified the rules of French Caribbean slavery) in order to uncover attempts to uphold the humanist project…


Book cover of Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth

Anna Malaika Tubbs Author Of The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

From my list on Black motherhood.

Who am I?

Anna Malaika Tubbs is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of MLK Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation. She is also a Cambridge Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and a Bill and Melinda Gates Cambridge Scholar. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a BA in Anthropology, Anna received a Master’s from the University of Cambridge in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies. Outside of the academy, she is an educator and DEI consultant. She lives with her husband, Michael Tubbs, and their son Michael Malakai.

Anna's book list on Black motherhood

Anna Malaika Tubbs Why did Anna love this book?

A crucial read not only for understanding the unique obstacles facing Black birthing parents but also for celebrating the work of organizers who have fought for our reproductive justice. This book explains how key moments in history have led to where we are today and fills gaps of understanding that many have when it comes to Black maternal health.

By Julia Oparah (editor), Alicia Bonaparte (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Birthing Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a global crisis in maternal health care for black women. In the United States, black women are over three times more likely to perish from pregnancy-related complications than white women; their babies are half as likely to survive the first year. Many black women experience policing, coercion, and disempowerment during pregnancy and childbirth and are disconnected from alternative birthing traditions. This book places black women's voices at the center of the debate on what should be done to fix the broken maternity system and foregrounds black women's agency in the emerging birth justice movement. Mixing scholarly, activist, and…


Book cover of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

JJ Savaunt Author Of Barren

From my list on detecting bullsh*t.

Who am I?

Writing is my life. As a child I wrote poems, scripts, and short stories. A couple of decades, a BCALA literary award, and a three-book deal later, my wild imagination has grown into a passion for exposing the truth. In 2020, a third of the 300,000 missing women in the United States were Black, and in that same year, I was almost a victim of human trafficking myself. With this second chance, I write to bring awareness and attention to women who cannot speak for themselves. I write to shed light on the truth and these five books have helped me on my journey.  

JJ's book list on detecting bullsh*t

JJ Savaunt Why did JJ love this book?

Did you know that 75% of bones in the human body are found below the knee? I thought that was interesting as well… if only it were true! This book taught me to critically assess data and not blindly accept every ‘scientific-sounding’ statement as truth. Medical Apartheid details the origins of several medical innovations which shockingly date back to slavery. The things doctors once considered permissible to do to enslaved women on the basis that ‘they did not feel pain’ brought literal tears to my eyes, but it was necessary for me to read because it shared the truth. A horrible, terrifying truth that pharmaceutical giants—like Pfizer—refuse to acknowledge to this day. 

By Harriet A. Washington,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Medical Apartheid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • The first full history of Black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read this masterful book.

"[Washington] has unearthed a shocking amount of information and shaped it into a riveting, carefully documented book." —New York Times

From the era of slavery to the present day, starting with the earliest encounters between Black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, Medical Apartheid details the ways…


Book cover of Cane

David G. Nicholls Author Of Conjuring the Folk: Forms of Modernity in African America

From my list on understanding the Great Black Migration.

Who am I?

I'm a lifelong reader and wanted to study literature from an early age. I grew up in Indianapolis, one of the cities reshaped by the Great Black Migration. I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago and found myself once again in the urban Midwest. My research for Conjuring the Folk led me to discover a trove of short stories by George Wylie Henderson, a Black writer from Alabama who migrated to Harlem. I edited the stories and published them as Harlem Calling: The Collected Stories of George Wylie Henderson. I'm a contributor to African American Review, the Journal of Modern Literature, and the Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration

David's book list on understanding the Great Black Migration

David G. Nicholls Why did David love this book?

Cane is an experimental, modernist work combining poetry, fictional vignettes, and dramatic dialogue as it portrays Black life in the sugar cane fields of the South and in the urban neighborhoods of recent migrants. I first read Cane while I was living in an apartment on the south side of Chicago, a destination for hundreds of thousands of Black migrants in the mid-twentieth century; the tracks of the Illinois Central railroad, their main transit route from the South, were just steps away from my home. The book drew my attention to the forces shaping my neighborhood, while it also led me to begin thinking about the connections between art and migration. It is a very lyrical and powerful book—and the subject of the second chapter of my book.

By Jean Toomer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1923, Jean Toomer's Cane is an innovative literary work-part drama, part poetry, part fiction-powerfully evoking black life in the South. Rich in imagery, Toomer's impressionistic, sometimes surrealistic sketches of Southern rural and urban life are permeated by visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and fire; the northern world is pictured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets. This iconic work of American literature is published with a new afterword by Rudolph Byrd of Emory University and Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University, who provide groundbreaking biographical information on Toomer, place his writing within the context of American…


Book cover of The Hidden Wound

Neta Jackson Author Of The Yada Yada Prayer Group

From my list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers.

Who am I?

During college, I attended an inner-city black church during the years of the civil rights movement—and it changed the course of my life. My husband and I have lived in diverse neighborhoods and attended multicultural churches for most of our 56 years of marriage, realizing we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters of color. But the biggest influence that caused me to write the Yada Yada Prayer Group novels was/is the prayer group of sisters of color that I’ve been part of for over 25 years. As we spent time together every week for years (!), these sisters helped turn my life and my faith upside down—or maybe “right side up.”

Neta's book list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers

Neta Jackson Why did Neta love this book?

Two people who worked for Wendell Berry’s family when he was a child had a profound effect on his life—“Aunt Georgie” Ashby and Nick Watkins. With the simplicity of their lives birthing profound wisdom, Berry credits them for helping to expose the hidden wound of racism and putting his feet on a path to reject the deeply ingrained racism of his youth. The result is a deeply thoughtful book of reflections and wisdom on the cancer that infects our society and what we must do to lance and heal it—if we will. A “must read” on your bookshelf.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden Wound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An impassioned, thoughtful, and fearless essay on the effects of racism on the American identity by one of our country’s most humane literary voices.

Acclaimed as “one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time” (The Village Voice), The Hidden Wound is a book-length essay about racism and the damage it has done to the identity of our country. Through Berry’s personal experience, he explains how remaining passive in the face of the struggle of racism further corrodes America’s great potential. In a quiet and observant manner, Berry opens up about how his attempt to discuss racism is…


Book cover of A Voice From the South

Helga Varden Author Of Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Theory

From my list on sex, love, and gender.

Who am I?

I am a professor in philosophy, political science, and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), where I live with my wife. I have a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto (Canada), an MA in philosophy from the University of Tromsø (Norway), a MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and a BA(Hons) in Business Management from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK). One of the most important lessons from my first two degrees was that I love theory (about theories) and, so, those two degrees enabled me to find my way to philosophy, which I have been in love with since. 

Helga's book list on sex, love, and gender

Helga Varden Why did Helga love this book?

I only recently discovered the work of Anna J. Cooper, but I find myself reading and thinking about and with her a lot. She’s not an obvious philosophical love for me in that she never writes about LGBTQIA life and does write about men and women from a relatively conservative, Christian, cis, and straight point of view. However, Cooper gives voice to and insight into the struggles of Black women, and her work helps me, as someone who is both racialized as white and an immigrant to the US, perceive and feel important dimensions of the reality in which I now live.

Thus, in her writings about the things she knows about, I find a friend and a colleague as I’m trying to think about intersectional issues that go beyond the life I know first-personally.

By Anna J. Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Voice From the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book by Anna J. Cooper, A Voice From the South, presents strong ideals supporting racial and gender equality as well as economic progress. It's a forward-thinking narrative that highlights many disparities hindering the African American community.

Anna J. Cooper was an accomplished educator who used her influence to encourage and elevate African Americans. With A Voice From the South, she delivers a poignant analysis of the country's affairs as they relate to Black people, specifically Black women. She stresses the importance of education, which she sees as a great equalizer. Cooper considers it a necessary investment in not…


Book cover of Jubilee

Faye Snowden Author Of A Killing Rain

From my list on making you fall in love with reading.

Who am I?

I am a writer who loves to read. In fact when aspiring writers ask me for advice about getting started, I tell them to read widely, and more importantly, to fall in love with reading. So much about craft can be learned from deconstructing good books to see how they work. Each of the five books I’ve selected have influenced the way I tell my stories. They have taught me to examine past works for inspiration and compelling beginnings.

Faye's book list on making you fall in love with reading

Faye Snowden Why did Faye love this book?

Walker’s Jubilee extends the slave narrative, a popular weapon used by abolitionists to fight slavery. Instead of ending when the main character escapes their cruel master, Walker tells the story of a woman’s journey from emancipation to reconstruction and beyond.

I included this book not only because of a great beginning, but also because I wanted to give an example of how important story is to the success of a book, and in some cases more important than the language.

Besides, how can you not read on after a first chapter with the title, “Death is a mystery that only the squinch owl knows”? 

By Margaret Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jubilee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jubilee tells the true story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress. Vyry bears witness to the South's antebellum opulence and to its brutality, its wartime ruin, and the promises of Reconstruction. Weaving her own family's oral history with thirty years of research, Margaret Walker's novel brings the everyday experiences of slaves to light. Jubilee churns with the hunger, the hymns, the struggles, and the very breath of American history.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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