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The Black Panther Party's fight against medical discrimination

Claire Richard asks Alondra Nelson about a neglected and yet essential legacy of the Black Panther Party. When the party emerged in 1966, the Jim Crow laws had been dismantled and there was no legal support for discrimination in the United States, but there were still segregated practices within the healthcare sector. As the saying goes, when America has a cold, African Americans have pneumonia. The Black Panthers fought for healthcare equality as a way to achieve social justice. Alondra Nelson tells us about the clinics they created where they did basic healthcare but also screening and vaccination programs. They were asking for a universal healthcare system which the USA still don't have today...

Alondra Nelson is Associate Professor of Sociology and also holds an appointment in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWaG). Her areas of specialization include race and ethnicity in the U.S.; gender and kinship; socio-historical studies of medicine, science and technology; and social and cultural theory. Nelson studies the production of knowledge about human difference in  biomedicine and technoscience and the circulation of these ideas in the public sphere: Her research focuses on how science and its applications shape the social world, including aspects of personal identification, racial formation and collective action.


  • Body  and  Soul:  The  Black  Panther  Party  and  the  Politics  of Health and Race (forthcoming, University of Minnesota Press)
  • Reconciliation Projects: Slavery, Memory and the Social Life ofDNA (book-length manuscript in progress)

Edited books

  • Afrofuturism (A Special Issue of Social Text, Duke Uni-versity Press, 2002)
  • Technicolor:  Race,  Technology,  and  Everyday  Life,  Co-Editor with Thuy Linh N. Tu and Alicia Headlam Hines (New York Uni-versity Press, 2001).

Journal articles

  • «Bio  Science:  Genetic  Genealogy  Testing  and  the  Pursuit  of African Ancestry» (Social Studies of Science, 2008)
  • «The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing», with Deborah Bolnick, et al., (Science, 2007)
  • «Racial categories in medical practice: How useful are they?», with Lundy Braun, et al. (Public Library of Science, 2007)
  • «Aliens Who Are Of Course Ourselves': The Art of Layla Ali» (Art Journal: Journal of the  College Art Association, 2001)
  • «Communities on the Verge: Intersections and Disjunctures in the New Information Order» with T. Tu, A. Hines, and D. Wexler (Computers and Composition, 1997)

Pour citer ces ressources :

Alondra Nelson / Claire Richard. 01/2012. "The Black Panther Party's fight against medical discrimination".
La Clé des Langues (Lyon: ENS LYON/DGESCO). ISSN 2107-7029. Mis à jour le 19 janvier 2012.
Consulté le 25 novembre 2017.
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Mise à jour le 19 janvier 2012
Créé le 9 janvier 2012
ISSN 2107-7029
DGESCO Clé des Langues