Saturday, November 26, 2011

Notes on Body & Soul by Alondra Nelson Pt. 1

Alondra Nelson's Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination is kinda like an extended remix. The work takes a familiar tune--here, the saga of the Black Panther Party--and includes distinct innovations--in this case, the Party's health activism.

Alondra has been a friend and important teacher for me for years now. Her pioneering work on afrofuturism (AF) has been an essential guide for the work that our program does concerning the convergence of race and technology.

Body and Soul concentrates on the histories of health, science, and activism that informed the Party's moves to confront "medical discrimination in the healthcare system, in biomedical theories, and in research design" (xi). As Alondra notes, "Body and Soul is an exploration of why and how health issues, broadly understood, came to be an indispensable element of the Party's politics" (5).

Over the next week or so as I'm reading, I'll try to provide a series of entries identifying some of what has drawn my interest concerning the book and the Party's health activism. So far, I'm already intrigued by Alondra's revelations about the group's less-publicized involvement fighting medical discrimination.

I've been familiar with the popular narrative about the Black Panther Party for a while now. But Alondra Nelson's Body and Soul is proving to be a necessary, powerful remix.

Related: URG: Notebook on Alondra Nelson's Body and Soul

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