Healing Captives: Slavery, Medicine, and Natural Inquiry in Early Modern Italy
When and Where
This paper explores the entanglement of slavery, medicine, and natural inquiry in early modern Italy. It focuses on health-related practices, forms of bodily management, and processes of knowledge making and transfer that developed alongside the creation of the Bagno of Livorno, the purpose-built edifice that for some 150 years housed a large community of enslaved individuals. On the one hand, I consider how physicians and natural inquirers participated in maintaining and supporting the institution of slavery and were involved in the expropriation of knowledge as well as labor from enslaved subjects. On the other hand, I examine how captives acted as agents of healing and knowledge. I argue that drawing attention to the role of slavery in histories of medicine and natural inquiry in early modern Italy invites us to shift our perspective on the way we approach them.
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