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Medical Appropriation in the ‘Red’ Atlantic: Translating a Mi’kmaq smallpox cure in the mid-nineteenth century

Lawrence-Mackey, Farrah; (2019) Medical Appropriation in the ‘Red’ Atlantic: Translating a Mi’kmaq smallpox cure in the mid-nineteenth century. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis answers the questions of what was travelling, how, and why, when a Kanien’kehaka woman living amongst the Mi’kmaq at Shubenacadie sold a remedy for smallpox to British and Haligonian colonisers in 1861. I trace the movement of the plant (known as: Mqo’oqewi’k, Indian Remedy, Sarracenia purpurea, and Limonio congener) and knowledges of its use from Britain back across the Atlantic. In exploring how this remedy travelled, why at this time and what contexts were included with the plant’s removal I show that rising scientific racism in the nineteenth century did not mean that Indigenous medical flora and knowledge were dismissed wholesale, as scholars like Londa Schiebinger have suggested. Instead conceptions of indigeneity were fluid, often lending authority to appropriated flora and knowledge while the contexts of nineteenth-century Britain, Halifax and Shubenacadie created the Sarracenia purpurea, Indian Remedy and Mqo’oqewi’k as it moved through and between these spaces. Traditional accounts of bio-prospecting argue that as Indigenous flora moved, Indigenous contexts were consistently stripped away. This process of stripping shapes Indigenous origins as essentialised and static. Following the plant backward to its apparent point of origin highlights the more complex reality. This work is undertaken within the broader framework of ‘Red’ Atlantic history, that seeks to bring complex Indigenous histories into broader accounts of medicine in the Atlantic World. I will highlight that the ‘Red’ Atlantic approach, when undertaken by nonIndigenous historians, requires recognition and honesty about of the historian’s own position. This is not Indigenous history. Due to the constraints of distance, time and funding I was unable to obtain testimonies from current members of the Mi’kmaq community. Histories that do not include this important resource, from oral historical cultures, cannot claim to be Indigenous histories. Though revisionist, my work is informed by my position as a white woman educated in western academia therefore it remains “American Indian history largely from the white perspective.”

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Medical Appropriation in the ‘Red’ Atlantic: Translating a Mi’kmaq smallpox cure in the mid-nineteenth century
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. - Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10072124
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