Based on a review of historian Grandin’s book by Anthropologist P. Kerim Friedman, it seems that slavery was a learning opportunity to help doctors and psychologists find new ways to better the lives of humans.
I never thought slavery could help solve problems under the field of medicine. According to Friedman’s review, during the time of slavery, doctors worked along the Atlantic Seaboard helping suffering slaves and finding new ways to make the business more profitable. They observed and found new ways to lower mortality rates as well as calculate caloric intake rates based on the amount of food and water provided and the amount of work done by the slaves. Psychologists observed the moods of slaves and found that they had melancholia and nostalgia that affected their work and daily lives. Based on my knowledge of slavery, African Americans were never really seen as human. However, these new observations showed the world that slaves battled the same issues that all humans did, sickness and mood changes. It defined African Americans as human and helped the medical society to allow for more research on diseases and problems that occur so often in life.
Originally, the doctors had the intention to lower expenses for slave owners by reducing mortality rates and better the health of slaves, but they made medical discoveries that benefited the general population as well. Anthropological research not only affects one field, rather it affects all fields by sharing different connections such as this case with Medical Anthropology.
Friedman, P. Kerim (2014, March 8). Decentering Freedom [Web log post] Retrieved from http://savageminds.org/2014/03/08/decentering-freedom/