HoW: History on Wednesday | Corporal Punishment and Disease Control in the Antebellum US Army
Dr Pamela Maddock
Corporal Punishment and Disease Control in the Antebellum US Army: the Case of Captain Sykes, 1853
The court martial of Captain George Sykes reveals that in response to the theft of supplies, the rising number of VD cases, and the risks to the retention of workers in this imperial borderland, American military authorities chose to mete out corporal punishment on Mexican women’s bodies. The case is an example of contested sovereignty constructed and experienced through violence enacted on bodies. It also shows how American military authorities, wielded sexually transmitted infections defensively in the face of charges of misconduct. The narrative that unfolds in the case depicts a contest over labor, goods, and services wherein the army of an expanding American empire negotiated its authority – through violence, fear, sexual exploitation, and its own separate competing system of justice. In this paper, I take for granted that understandings of gender and sexuality are crucial to the making of empire, and I argue that it is impossible to untangle the army’s concern for infection control from the twin concerns for labor supply and territorial control.
Dr Pamela Maddock completed her PhD in History in 2019. Her research combines gender and labour history with the social history of medicine. She is working on a manuscript that traces the impact of racial, geographic, and military factors on the US Army’s approach to sexually-transmitted infections. In 2021 she is lecturing in American Studies at the University of Sydney.
The Department of History hosts a lively departmental research seminar series. Everyone is welcome to attend.
12:10-1:30pm Wednesday 20 October 2021
On Zoom. An invitation will be sent to everyone registered for the seminar series on the day before the event.
The Department of History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI)
The Convenor of History on Wednesday is Dr Hélène Sirantoine | Click here to email