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Reifschneider, Meredith A.

Grant Type
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
Stanford U.
Status
Completed Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
Reifschneider, Meredith A., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Danish Colonial Healthcare Policy and Afro-Caribbean Healing Practices, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands,' supervised by Dr. Barbara Voss

MEREDITH A. REIFSCHNEIDER, then a graduate student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received funding in October 2015 to aid research on 'Danish Colonial Healthcare Policy and Afro-Caribbean Healing Practices, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands,' supervised by Dr. Barbara Voss. This archaeological research project examines the practical negotiations between colonial healthcare policy and local healthcare practices during the 19th century in St. Croix. In order to understand how enslaved individuals approached issues of health and well-being within the context of institutionalized medicine, archaeological excavations were conducted at a former plantation hospital at Estate Cane Garden. Targeted analyses of ceramics, faunal remains, and macrobotanical remains from the hospital indicate that enslaved caregivers and patients utilized a wide range of plant and animal resources and that foodways served as important conduits of healing. While Danish physician reports and Board of Health documents indicate a deep investment in maintaining the health of enslaved people by creating a comprehensive healthcare network, archaeological excavations highlight a lack of material objects commonly associated with medical practice. Archaeological research suggests that: 1) the centrally administered healthcare system envisioned by the colonial government was not implemented at the local level; and 2) everyday care at the hospital may have encompassed broader interpretations of healthcare and wellness than those mentioned in the medical documents. This research emphasizes the historical rootedness of 'health' and argues that health is a simultaneously institutionalized and highly individual/subjective state of being.