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Risky Bodies: Quantification, Fungibility, and Slave Trade in the Seventeenth Century Atlantic

November 7, 2016 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Pablo Gomez seated at a table speaking, wearing a blue shirt and gesturing with his left hand

Monday Seminar:

Pablo Gómez

Resident Fellow (2016-2017)

Department of Medical History and Bioethics; History of Science, UW-Madison


How did early modern governments, and slave traders’ and their financiers’ quantify disease and risk? How did they develop tools that allowed them to trade and invest in human corporeality and its afflictions? In this presentation, coming from my new research project, I explore the emergence of ideas about corporeality in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Atlantic slave trading circuits that scholars have traditionally associated with the rise of the New Science and biomedicine in Western Europe. The appearance of a quantifiable, universal body, as the evidence I examine in this project shows, was intimately linked to the unprecedented rise in the size and complexity of the commerce of human bodies in the early modern South Atlantic.


Pablo F. Gómez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, an MD from CES University and did his residency in Orthopaedic surgery at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Pablo’s work examines the history of health and corporeality in the early modern Atlantic world. He has published numerous articles and book chapters. His forthcoming book, The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), explores belief making and the creation of evidence around the human body and the natural world in the early modern Caribbean and black Atlantic. Pablo is currently working on a history of the universal quantifiable body and risk in the early modern world.


November 7, 2016
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Categories:


University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States