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Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  182 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Between its founding in 1966 and its formal end in 1980, the Black Panther Party blazed a distinctive trail in American political culture. The Black Panthers are most often remembered for their revolutionary rhetoric and militant action. Here Alondra Nelson deftly recovers an indispensable but lesser-known aspect of the organization’s broader struggle for social justice: h ...more
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published October 20th 2011 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Alondra Nelson Dear Tony,
I apologize for taking some time to get back to you. My new book, The Social Life of DNA, was published last month, so I am speaking less…more
Dear Tony,
I apologize for taking some time to get back to you. My new book, The Social Life of DNA, was published last month, so I am speaking less frequently about Body and Soul. However, I will speak about the Black Panther book on Feb 11th at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia. All event details here:

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Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book. Would assign to a grad seminar in medical sociology. She recovers the history of the Black Panthers' health programs. Focuses on the institutional, ideological, and tactical goals these health programs served. (Institutional--the health programs served as an alternative to the thin democracy and inadequate programs of the War on Poverty; Ideological--linked radical theorists like Guevara, Mao, and Franz Fanon to the Panthers' critique of 20th century social inequality; Tactical--corr ...more
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Just a fabulous read. Nelson knows the period, and the Panthers, inside out. She also has a suburb capacity to write about a focused thesis - the role and impact of the Panthers' health programs on both society and the Panthers - while drawing on the broader context and understanding without every overwhelming the narrative. The story itself is the best kind of inspiring - not remotely an uncritical look, but one which allows the humanity and the passion and the mistakes and the persistence to s ...more
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Yes, I am a historian and like to challenge myself with reading outside of my preferred time period. My preferred time 1880-1930. So why the 1960s? The image of the BPP as a gang of socialist, Black nationalist with a bend toward violence has been the media fed image for those post-1960s people. I know a number of scholars who work on this topic and their research has proven a deeper and more complex network of justice fighters and crusaders. Nelson's work explores the social action performed by ...more
This book was pretty fucking awesome; I'd say it's required reading for people interested in Disability Studies, health activists, and people working as health professionals. Nelson details the BPP's multi-pronged approach to health activism, citing the profound influence of Fanon's critiques of psychiatry as a colonial weapon in The Wretched of the Earth. She explores the formation of the Free People's Health Clinics as the main framework of their health efforts, analyzes their grassroots campa ...more
Dusky Literati
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2011
powerful and insightful!
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great to learn more about the history of radical health and wellness movements in the u.s. Really inspiring!
Ayman Fadel
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Quando dou comida aos pobres chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres chamam-me de comunista."

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."

Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara (1909 – 1999), Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, 1964 to 1985

Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination by Alondra Nelson.
University of Minnesota Press, 2011, 289 pp.

Professor Alondra Nelson (Tw
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent history! Reads too much like a graduate thesis, though. I am wary of the overuse of "praxis."
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. A great read for anyone interested in learning more about health activism. It highlights many important themes.
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very dry but an excellent scholarly analysis as to what instruments the Black Panther used to bring health reform to Black folk.
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book! I had NO IDEA about the People's Free Health Clinics the Black Panther Party created, or their work in bioethics, sickle cell anemia awareness, and other public health programs they started and ran in their local chapters. Some of the health clinics they started are still running.

For anyone interested in political science, public health, history, bioethics, and medical experimentation on marginalized communities. This should be a must read for medical students, nurses, and anyone
Anh  Le
Very intriguing and at the same time important topic. I could have liked the book better if the writing were more engaging with fewer overlapping ideas and more dedicating focus to the activities of the Black Panther Party itself rather than their sociopolitical ramifications (which the book completely did justice)
Elizabeth  Higginbotham
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Insightful book that tells a neglected history of Black Panther involvement with service projects and how they challenged medical models and a legacy of neglect of Black Health with People's Free Medical clinic.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
loved the stuff on the medicalization of violence....
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Alondra Nelson is professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she has served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science and director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Before arriving at Columbia, she was on the faculty of Yale University and received the Poorvu Award for interdisciplinary teaching excellence.

She is the author or editor of four books, including Bo

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