Cover image for In the blood : sickle cell anemia and the politics of race
In the blood : sickle cell anemia and the politics of race
Tapper, Melbourne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
163 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA645.S53 T37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Although it strikes individuals from a variety of backgrounds, sickle cell anemia has always been known as a "black" disease in America. In the Blood argues that ever since the discovery in 1910 and subsequent scientific analysis of the disease, sickle cell anemia has been manipulated to serve social ends-as a tool for securing white identity and a way to establish a hierarchy based on European heritage. Tapper shows how sickle cell anemia was used to promote the superiority of racial purity, to characterize the black body as contaminated, and even to support the notion that modern humans evolved from multiple origins.

Author Notes

Melbourne Tapper teaches anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Tapper's main thrust is the misconception and the underlying negative implications that sickle cell anemia is predominately a black person's disease. Through political constructs and research emanating from various scientific disciplines (i.e., anthropology, genetics, medicine, serology), the author articulately illustrates how many falsehoods have arisen about this "black-related disease." Implicit in these assumptions, and the theme of the book, is the underlying and ill-conceived perception that black people are somehow inherently genetically inferior. Tapper's assertion that sickle cell anemia has been used to determine racial purity and whiteness as well as "black inferiority" is very convincing and well documented. As stated, the aim of the book is "to document the specific ways which the phenomena has been and still is systematized and normalized." Tapper's offer of evidence and the contention that the evolution of Homo sapiens had multiple origins will particularly fascinate the reader. Based on the book's format and sophistication, it is recommended for all levels, from general readers to professionals in the medical sciences. H. S. Pitkow Temple University