Farren Yero F'19

Farren  Yero
Postdoctoral Scholar
Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
Duke University

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2019
Doctoral Candidate
Duke University
Laboratories of Consent: Vaccine Science in the Spanish Atlantic World, 1779-1840

The 1804 introduction of the smallpox vaccine raised unprecedented questions in the Spanish empire about patient rights and medical consent. By royal order, vaccination was voluntary—a problem for doctors in need of young bodies to reproduce, test, and circulate the vaccine. “Laboratories of Consent” considers how patients and doctors negotiated this question of consent and explains how and why voluntary vaccination developed in the nineteenth-century Spanish Atlantic world. At times, medical consent was pronounced a natural right of fathers, a demonstration of scientific expertise, and/or an act of loyalty to the crown. The dissertation analyzes the gendered and racialized assumptions that informed these visions of consent—and the ways women, children, and the enslaved challenged them. In doing so, it argues that the idea of medical consent, and its promise of ethical care, worked to uphold rather than contest structures of colonial power, as immunization became embedded in struggles over slavery, parental rights, individual freedoms, and hierarchies challenged by the unrest of revolution.