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Carolyn Roberts

African American Studies, with a primary field in History

Carolyn Roberts is a PhD candidate at Harvard University in the Department of African and African American Studies with a primary field in history. 

Her dissertation research is an in-depth study of the social and cultural history of medicine in the 18th-century British slave trade from the perspective of British sea surgeons and enslaved West Africans.  In examining the medical world of slave trading, the project is particularly attentive to the medical management of the slave trade; 18th-century maritime medical practice; precolonial West and West Central African medical botany and therapeutic traditions; and the seaborne medical encounters that articulated between doctors and slaves.

Carolyn's teaching, lecturing, and speaking engagements have covered a broad range of topics related to medicine, health, and healing in African American history and the history of the African diaspora.  These include slave trade medicine, African melancholia and mental health, the medical dimensions of abolitionist discourse, plantation medicine, medical experimentation during slavery, and contemporary subjects related to race, poverty, and public health.

Carolyn holds a B.A with Honors from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from Andover Newton Theological School. Prior to graduate study Carolyn worked as a professional actor in New York City and nationally, specializing in Shakespeare and other classics from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.