Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism “curative / spaces” series

Sep 27, 2021, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
via Zoom
  • Department of Art & Archaeology
  • The Humanities Council Exploratory Grant in Collaborative Humanities
  • Center for Digital Humanities
  • Department of Religion
Public / Open To All
Event Description

Medical Bondage, Mobility, & Fugitive Logic: Revisiting Harriet Tubman as an Intellectual Figure

Deirdre Cooper Owens

This event is organized as a part of Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism. During the 2021-2022 academic year, Art Hx presents curative / spaces, a programming series that explores the relationship between race, space, and healthcare through the lens of art and design. We will host a range of events that consider how experiences of race and medicine are spatially produced in architecture, design, and in the circulation of art. We want to reflect on how these relationships affect access to resources, meanings about the body, and people’s understandings and conceptions of healthcare. We hope the series will help us imaginatively redesign these processes of health injustice and build new practices of care together through art’s ability to transform society.

Building off the new emphasis on black women’s intellectual history, Deirdre Cooper Owens probes Harriet Tubman's intellectual offerings via her community work via entrepreneurship, abolitionism, herbalism, and institution building. As a historian of medicine, Cooper Owens has documented the importance of Black women's healing practices to the development of American medicine. Herbalism is one of the foundations of their healing arts (and Harriet Tubman was skilled in this artform). In her presentation, Dr. Cooper Owens hopes to reveal Tubman as more than a courageous freedom fighter; but also, as a fierce intellectual figure. In order to liberate dozens of enslaved people, Tubman learned the topographical and ecological landscape of Maryland's Eastern Shore where she mapped out both a spiritual cartography of freedom in routes and roots. Meanwhile, Tubman’s comments on faith and spirituality reveal a complex cosmology that Cooper Owens has coined "spiritual cartography." Led by her faith, towards the end of her long life, Tubman was one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Women's Club, whose motto, "Lifting As We Climb," embodied a more politicized theory of Black liberation rooted in Christianity, civics and the social contract. Ultimately, I suggest that if we are to truly value Harriet Tubman’s contributions to the black freedom struggle, we must take her ideas as seriously as we do her abolitionist actions.

Co-Sponsors: The Humanities Council Exploratory Grant in Collaborative Humanities, the Center for Digital Humanities, and the Departments of African American Studies and Art & Archaeology


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Event Type
Featured Event
Event Category
AAS Co-Sponsored Events