Evelynn M. Hammonds
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2012)|
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (October 2012)|
Evelynn M. Hammonds (born 1953, Atlanta, Georgia) is an American academic, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of History of Science and African American Studies at Harvard University and Former Dean of Harvard College. She is also a Black Feminist author, whose writing intersects the concepts of race with the academic fields of science and medicine. She has written articles that examine gender and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS (Evelynn M. Hammonds 1). This intersection is apparent in her article “Toward a Genealogy of Black Female Sexuality: The Problematic of Silence.” Hammonds resigned her position as Dean of Harvard College, effective July 1, 2013.
Hammonds was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1953. Her mother was a school teacher and her father was a postal worker. She grew up in the time right after segregation and was forced to deal with many racial issues growing up. Hammonds attended public school in the South, and in 1976 earned her first two degrees. She earned a bachelor's degree in physics (1976) from Spelman College. She also earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1976 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She then went on to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a master's degree in physics in 1980.
She went to work as a software engineer for five years before returning to academic life. In 1993 Hammonds earned a doctorate degree in the history of science from Harvard University. At that time, MIT also invited Hammonds to teach. While she was there, she was a founding director of MIT’s center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine.
In 2002 she returned to Harvard and joined as a professor in the departments of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. She received the title of Dean at Harvard College in 2008 and was only the 4th black woman to receive tenure within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University (History Makers 1). Hammonds has led a committee (to which she was appointed by former Harvard President Lawrence Summers) focusing on improving searches for female faculty at Harvard to ensure women get fair consideration for promotion, and to explore ways to support them in meeting family demands. Harvard's announcement of her appointment referred to "targeted searches as a means of enhancing gender diversity on the faculty."
E-mail Search Scandal at Harvard
The Harvard Crimson called on Hammonds to resign, stating: "Since Hammonds provided misinformation regarding the highly sensitive issue of email searches, and since she violated clear policy regarding those searches, her presence at the helm of the College stands as a roadblock to rebuilding trust between students, faculty, and the administration."
On May 28th, Hammonds announced that she would resign to lead a new Harvard research program on race and gender in science. Hammonds said that her decision to resign was unrelated to the email search incident. 
Hammonds research focuses on the intersection of science and medicine and human race. Many of her works analyze gender and race in the perspective of science and medicine. She is concerned with how science examines human variation through race. Hammonds mainly studies the time period of the 17th century to present while focusing on history of diseases and African American feminism. Within these broad fields of research she is concerned with the relationship between African American women and AIDS.
In 1997, Hammond's article “Toward a Genealogy of Black Female Sexuality: The Problematic of Silence” was published in Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader. In this article Hammond focuses on the intersection of black female sexuality and AIDS. She argues that black female sexuality (from the 19th century to present) was formed in exact opposition to that of the white woman’s, and that historically many black feminists have failed to develop a concept of black female sexuality. Hammonds then discusses the limitations of black women’s sexuality and how that affects black women with AIDS.
Hammonds defines black woman’s sexuality as having so much sexual potential that it was none at all. By this she means that black women are capable of more than their socially acceptable definition of their own sexuality, but yet they are unable to express it. This is a consequence of black women being unable to define sexuality in their own terms. Hammonds, by using iconography, illustrates that the concept of black female sexuality has always been defined socially as the opposite of a white female sexuality. She dates the earliest records of these definitions in the early 19th century with Sarah Bartmann as the “Hottentot’s Venus”. This was a black woman who was put on display and seen as vulgar because she had larger anatomical body parts than those of her white counterparts. In more recent years, black woman exemplify the notion of an uncontrolled sexuality. This was largely in part due to the comparison of black women to Victorian white women. These white women were viewed to have sexuality only for the pleasure of her man. Victorian woman were not supposed to want sex for pleasure and were only to participate in sexual acts to make her husband happy. The belief of the time was since these women did not have penis they could not receive sexual gratification. Black women were seen as hypersexual. White society thought that black female sexuality undermined the morals and values of their society.
During the late 19th early 20th century black women reformers were set on developing a new definition of black female sexuality. This new definition was an image of a super moral black female to align itself with the super moral Victorian women. These black women were set on deconstruction the hypersexual notion of the black female sexuality. Hammonds argues that by silencing the voice of the black female, the reformers oppressed black women without deconstructing the notion of the hyper sexual connotation.
Hammonds states that in order for black women to be free from oppression, black women must reclaim their sexuality. The definition of black female sexuality was always defined by an outside group looking in, first by white males, then white females. Black females must define their own sexuality in order to overcome oppression. She states that this repeated silence has become a notion of “invisibility” to describe black females’ lives. Even women with prestige in academia are still under invisibility when they are told what issues they can and cannot lecture about. Hammonds continues to extend the “invisibility” of black women to the field of medicine and science. Black women have been oppressed for so many years that negative stereotypes have been formed about black women and now to black women with AIDS. These stereotypes have created a void between black women with AIDS and society. The public continues to hold black women up to the stereotype of hypersexual and black women with AIDS are forced to deal with this oppression.
- [dead link]
- Fandos, Nicholas (2 April 2013). "Revelation of Second Email Search Contradicts Administrators' Previous Statement". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "To Rebuild Trust, Hammonds Must Resign". The Harvard Crimson. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Perez-Pena, Richard (28 May 2013). "Harvard Dean Who Handled E-Mail Searches to Step Down". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Staff, Globe (28 May 2013). "Evelynn Hammonds to step down as Harvard College dean". Boston Globe. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- [dead link]
- Hammonds, Evelynn M. "Toward a Genealogy of Black Female Sexuality: The Problematic of Silence." Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader, edited by Janet Price and Margaret Shildrick. New York: Routledge, 1997. 249-59
- Hammonds, 249
- Hammonds, 250
- Hammonds, 251
- Hammonds, 252
- Hammonds, 255