Lecture on Medical Apartheid, Biomedicine, and Afrofuturism / by Edna Bonhomme

Today, I gave a talk for the co-curated exhibition, Scan the Difference on Medical Apartheid, Biomedicine and Afrofuturism. Here is the abstract and highlights from the talk.


Technological tools, albeit drones or spyware, are part and parcel of monitoring and circumscribing people’s everyday actions—including their movements, their thoughts, and their plans. Beyond that, surveillance creates racial subjectivities that are often intertwined with historical and political regimes. Within and beyond the United States Empire, Arab and Black people have been targets of surveillance, though for different reasons, under policing systems and military occupation. How do emergent technologies and surveillance dictate and engender health and illness? To what extent does global apartheid and postcolonial border regimes influence morbidity and mortality for womxn*? What types of medical knowledge gets remembered and whose deaths are worth mourning? In this workshop, we will interrogate cyborgs, therapeutics, and memory through one case study of medical apartheid, one biomedical record, and one Afrofuturist manifesto (as constructed by Dr. Bonhomme). We will work through archival practices and silences and see how they feature into fictive, tangible and narrative structures from a Black radical feminist and anti-colonial alens. This interactive seminar will provide a historical interrogation of surveillance along racial and ethnic lines especially as it is instrumentalized for womxn* and non-elite bodies. We will consider how former Black womxn* slaves, pro-choice activists, Black theorists, poets, filmmakers, and the subaltern created their own medical landscape within the backdrop of technoscience. The power and ethics of knowing is not only shaped by what we have inherited but by what we can create. So, we will consider how science fiction has the possibility of providing voice to womxn* who have lived under tyranny and occupation especially as they delve into constructing egalitarian societies or cosmic battles where engendered and racialized subjects can create their own radical feminist future.

*=the asterisk is meant to include transgender people, gender non-conforming people, and intersex people