Talk by Edna Bonhomme: On Call. The Labour of African American Nurses during the 1918 Flu

On July 13th, 2021 historian and writer Edna Bonhomme held her virtual talk in the series „Carte Blanche III at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities Essen (KWI).

The impact of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic was devastating for all, although suffering was exacerbated based on gender, class, race and geographical differences. In order to understand how this pandemic impacted different communities, historian and writer Edna Bonhomme will explore how Black women’s labor in nursing—which was limited by racial segregation—can provide more insight about the pandemic within the context of racial segregation, wartime activities, and medical treatment in confined or more compact spaces. African American nurses were often on call, but, due to the legacies of exclusion and discrimination in medicine the expertise of these medical professionals was not always granted their full potential. Nevertheless, their labor was rooted in care.

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