The 2021 Lapidus Center Conference is Hosted by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

October 6-8, 2021

Pandemic Legacies:
Health, Healing, and Medicine in the Age of Slavery and Beyond

Just as the slave trade tied together the cultures and populations of four continents, it also wed together distinctive disease ecologies. The lack of local populations with exploitable labor in the Americas compelled an increase in the volume of Africans that Europeans forced into the transatlantic slave trade, setting the stage for epidemic diseases and other health issues that shaped the cultural, social, and material life of Atlantic slavery. Genocidal warfare and the destructive effects of Eurasian African epidemic diseases caused the near decimation of Indigenous populations. Yellow fever, a virus native to tropical West Africa, became a common scourge to American ports. Doctors theorizing about the virus developed racial stereotypes that posited that people of African descent were inherently immune to the virus, setting the stage for a range of healthcare disparities that reverberate today.

Taking its cue from compelling new directions in slavery studies as well as our current health crisis, the virtual 2021 Lapidus Center Conference will explore a variety of critical issues in the history of health, healing, and medicine in the age of Atlantic slavery via a combination of keynote conversations and panel sessions.

The opening plenary is entitled “Covid-19 and the Ghosts of Eugenics Past.” It will feature the following panelists:

William Horne, Villanova University

Kathleen Brian, Western Washington University

Ayah Nuriddin, Johns Hopkins University

Moderator: Rana A. Hogarth, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This fully VIRTUAL conference will run October 6-8, 2021. This ticket is for the conference’s OPENING PLENARY (Wednesday, October 6). Please register for each day you would like to attend.


VIRTUAL PROGRAM | This conference will be streamed on Zoom. You must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. Please check your email shortly before the discussion to receive the link.

PRESS | Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Leah Drayton at

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