Associate Professor Joseph Hefner publishes in Bioarchaeology International

Department of Anthropology Associate Professor Joseph Hefner, along with Dr. Rebecca Redfern of Newcastle University, Professor Sharon N. DeWitte of the University of Colorado, and Professor Dorothy Kim of Brandeis University have published an article in Bioarchaeology International titled “Race, Population Affinity, and Mortality Risk during the Second Plague Pandemic in Fourteenth-Century London, England.”


We investigate whether hazards of death from plague and physiological stress at a fourteenth-century plague cemetery (Royal Mint, London) differed between populations using N = 49 adults whose affiliation was established using macromorphoscopic traits. Compared to a nonplague cemetery (N = 96), there was a greater proportion of people of estimated African affiliation in the plague burials. Cox proportional hazards analysis revealed higher hazards of death from plague for those with estimated African affiliation. There were higher rates of linear enamel hypoplasia in those with estimated African affiliation, but this finding is not statistically significant. These results provide the first evidence that hazards of plague death were higher for people of estimated African affiliation compared to other affiliations, possibly because of existing inequalities, in addition to migration (free or forced) outcomes. These findings may reflect premodern structural racism’s devastating effects.

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