AAA 2015 Call for Presenters: Black Bodies Matter


Dear ADTSG members,

During the special interest group (SIG) chairs meeting at the AAA meetings last year, a number groups that they wanted to put together a roundtable investigating a particular issue through the various lens of our SIGS. The topic they have selected is “Black Bodies Matter”. Below is a drafted abstract for the roundtable. If anyone in our membership is interested in representing our SIG in this event, please send me an email ASAP and I will get you in touch with the roundtable organizer. Also, if you know of anyone else who’s work and/or perspective would fit well into this session, please let me know.



2015 AAA Call for Presenters

In 2014 the reality of the differential treatment of persons of color by the police department became visible because of recent technologies that can videotape events as they occur. The response of the police may not be indicative of overt racism, (except in some specific locations especially since the election of the first African American President) but rather a deep seeded racism that is long standing in the United States. This visual reality led to demonstrations across the country. Unfortunately the assassination of two New York City police officers by a mentally disturbed individual has complicated the issues involved in the demonstrations that highlight the theme “Black Bodies Matter.” All bodies matter, but the outpouring of sympathy for the two innocent police officers underscores the differential responses that are given to the timely deaths of individuals of color.

Subsequently more killing of black bodies has occurred around the United States. Many of these killings have had limited press coverage. Demonstrations that have followed these killings also have received minimum coverage.

Medical anthropology has long been associated with research in various types of medical issues. However, researchers also has been concerned about ways in which their research can make visible the concerns and realities that hinder and impede life changes for individuals who are different rather in relation to health, ethnicity, race, gender, and habits. The Special Interests Groups of the Society of Medical Anthropology present ways in which the thought that “Black Bodies Matter” or perhaps non white bodies has not been brought to the forefront of change and reconciliation thus limiting the opportunities available to members of various  groups and an awareness of damage that has been reality in their lives.

Black bodies matter even when they are ill, disabled, young, old, pregnant, dying, have HIV, are infectious, have psychiatric impairments, are students, believe in alternative medicine, have substance abuse issues and live in various parts of the world. In this round table discussion a member of each of the special groups of the society for medical anthropology will open the discussion around specific issues that black bodies pose in relation to the to the focus of their special interest group.