Constructing Death in Medical Examiner Reports

The medical examination of George Floyd is a recent episode in a long history of American biomedical science constructing death in ways that absolves state accountability and suppresses knowledge about the biological effects of institutional racism.

This project asks: How does the pretense of objective biomedical knowledge erase the conflict of interest between state-sanctioned violence protected by legal immunity and a state sanctioned medical body charged with the task of disclosing cause of death in state custody? LCHP will support this team in obtaining coroner’s reports and proof of death letters to examine historical examples that address this question.

Project Participant Bios

terence keelTerence Keel is an Associate Professor with a split appointment in the Department of African American Studies, and the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. He has written widely about American biomedical science, religion, law, and modern thought. His first book, Divine Variations (Stanford University Press, January 2018) explained how Christian thought made possible the development of the race concept in Euro-American science while also shaping the moral and epistemic commitments embedded in the study of human biology. Keel is currently writing a second book that examines shifting conceptions of society and human identity in the minds of American biologists, New Left critics, and Neoconservatives during the “Culture Wars.” The book attempts to explain why contemporary research on human health and behavior appears to operate with conflicting beliefs about the role of “society” as a causal factor in producing human biological differences. Keel previously taught at UC Santa Barbara where he served as Vice Chair to the Department of History and was the first Black Studies Professor to receive the Harold J. Plous Award—the highest honor given to a junior faculty member in recognition for exceptional scholarship and teaching. Keel is an Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health under the directorship of Dr. Chandra Ford of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Keel is also a senior advisor to the Goldin Institute, a Chicago based non-profit organization that advocates globally for grassroots leadership, conflict resolution, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.

armond leeArmond Corshawn Lee is a rising senior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) double majoring in African American Studies and Sociology. Armond was born and raised in Richmond, CA (Bay Area) where he is a lead organizer with the group Richmond Revolution. Through his organization he works to address police brutality, carcerality, education and all other areas which affect the most vulnerable at the local level. Recently, the Richmond Revolution succeeded in pushing forth the cancelation of all contracts with local police departments through the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Now 1.5 million dollars will be allocated to the advancement of Black students and families. Armond considers himself an activist, merging the two worlds of art and film with activism and organizing.