Empire, race, and medical achievement: a changing dynamic and the Smith-Easmon medical dynasties
This seminar featuring Professor C.S.F. Easmon and historian Nigel Browne-Davies examines the changing dynamics of race in the British Empire between the 19th and 20th centuries and the opportunities and limitations this placed on the medical achievement of medical doctors of African descent in colonial West Africa and Britain.
Using three generations of the Sierra Leone Creole Easmon and Smith medical families as a lens, this talk examines the shift from an open-ended period of achievement for medical students of African descent between the middle to late 19th century to the Europeanisation and racial segregation of the colonial medical service in British West Africa between the late 19th and middle 20th centuries.
M.C.F. Easmon, a Sierra Leonean medical doctor and alumni of the LSTHM, entered the medical profession at the height of racial barriers for medical doctors of African descent. The scion of the distinguished Easmon and Smith medical dynasties, the medical careers of M.C.F. Easmon and that of his father, Dr J.F. Easmon, who had a distinguished career in the Gold Coast colonial medical service, were limited following the advent of social Darwinism that viewed Africans as ‘inferior’ and required ‘pure European descent’ for medical professional advancement.
This talk explores the declining fortunes of medical doctors of African descent through the careers of J.F. Easmon and M.C.F. Easmon and the breaking down of racial and professional barriers in the third generation of the Smith-Easmon medical dynasties as experienced by Professor C.S.F. Easmon.
About the speakers
Prof Charles Easmon is an Emeritus Professor of Health Policy, at the University of West London. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists a Founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and in 2000 was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to medical education.
Nigel Browne-Davies is a historian specialising in the study of coastal elites in the former British West African colonies and the Republic of Liberia during the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. He serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Sierra Leone Studies and is a former Diversity Delegate on The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew User Advisory Group.
A selection of historical artefacts from the Easmon family and LSHTM's Archives will be shown from 12:00 to 12:45. The seminar will last from 12:45 to 14:00.
The session will be recorded and made available after the event.