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The ethical use of historical medical documentation
Jessica Meyer and Alexia Moncrieff

What are the ethics that shape or should shape engagement with historical medical data, particularly archives containing patient voices? This question has come to the fore through the ‘Men, Women and Care’ project, a European Research Council-funded project creating a database of information drawn from the PIN 26 personal pension award records from the First World War. Held by the National Archives, London, these records contain a wealth of personal information, including potentially sensitive details of medical conditions and diagnoses, as well as material concerning stigmatising social situations, such as domestic violence, prostitution and illegitimacy. Using material drawn from ‘Men, Women and Care’, this chapter considers the opportunities presented and challenges posed by this material as sources for historical analysis. It considers issues of both disciplinary practice and theoretical framing to explore the position of the historian in relation to analysing and disseminating the historical patient voice. In doing so, it asks what use historians can and should make of this information and what steps the historical community might consider taking to articulate a code of ethics around practice that is sensitive both to family feeling and academic enquiry.

in Patient voices in Britain, 1840–1948
David Larsson Heidenblad

This chapter provides a new perspective on the environmental turn by deliberately putting the spotlight on two non-scientists. The chapter tells the story of how journalist Barbro Soller and historian Birgitta Odén became engaged in environmental issues. The first half of the chapter follows Soller’s gradual transition from general reporter to full-time environmental journalist. Particular focus is placed on her close collaboration with certain researchers and her landmark reportage Nya Lort-Sverige [New filth-Sweden] in the spring of 1968. In the second half of the chapter, Birgitta Odén’s work on preparing an interdisciplinary research application and building up an environmental history research group at the Department of History in Lund is analysed. It is noted that her younger brother, Svante Odén, was the scientist who discovered and alerted the public about the environmental hazard of acid rain in the autumn of 1967.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
Open Access (free)
David Larsson Heidenblad

This chapter introduces the main research problem, taking its starting point in the UN’s first Conference on the Human Environment, arranged in Stockholm in 1972. By then, knowledge of a global environmental crisis had circulated widely in Swedish society. Five years earlier, in the summer of 1967, things were very different. At that time, it was not at all self-evident that humans were in the process of destroying their own living environment. Hence, in a short period of time, a radical change took place: an ‘environmental turn’. How did that happen? When did it happen? Who set the ball rolling? And what were the consequences? The chapter then introduces and discusses the history of knowledge, the circulation of knowledge, and this rapidly growing field’s relationship with other branches of scholarship (such as the history of science and intellectual history). The chapter also highlights international scholarship on the emergence of environmentalism and compares the Swedish trajectory to other nations, notably the United States and Sweden’s Nordic neighbours. The chapter also introduces the three main actors which the story is weaved around: chemist Hans Palmstierna, journalist Barbro Soller, and historian Birgitta Odén.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
A European perspective
Burkhart Brückner

This comparative study examines the emergence and political significance of lunatics’ rights activism in Europe between 1870 and 1920. In writing the history of the criticism of psychiatry, scholars have so far mainly focused on the second half of the twentieth century. This chapter, however, shows that the decades around 1900 already saw a widespread criticism ‘from below’ accompanying the professionalisation and modernisation of European psychiatry. The comparative analysis of the careers of two key campaign leaders, Louisa Lowe (1820–1901) in England and Adolf Glöklen (1861–c.1935) in Germany, reveals the similarities and differences in their motives, ways of campaigning, mobilisation success and political agency at the individual and collective level. Drawing on concepts from the political sociology of social movements and disability history, the chapter highlights the connections between early lunatics’ rights activism and socio-historical categories like ‘class’, ‘gender’ and ‘body’ and identifies these campaigns as political predecessors of the contemporary consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement.

in Patient voices in Britain, 1840–1948
David Larsson Heidenblad

The concluding chapter highlights the study’s most important results: the big breakthrough took place in the autumn of 1967; the driving actors were natural scientists; environmental issues began to be seen as a threat to the survival of humanity; the environmental debate contained a non-apocalyptic and more low-key strand; environmental issues became politicized and subject to conflict; the morning paper Dagens Nyheter and social democracy exerted major influence; the environmental movement emerged only after the big breakthrough. Thereafter the chapter discusses the merits of the new history of knowledge approach and the study’s contribution to international scholarship of the environmental turn. Lastly, a comparison is made between environmentalism around 1970 and the contemporary climate debate. In this way, the chapter emphasizes the importance of historical insight to tackle contemporary global challenges.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
Michael Worboys

Since Roy Porter’s pioneering work on the ‘patient’s view’, historians have taken up the challenge to rewrite medicine’s past ‘from below’. However, this chapter argues that they have not been radical enough and have neglected a key part of Porter’s agenda for the new social history of medicine. He wrote: ‘We should stop seeing the doctor as the agent of primary care. People took care before they took physick. What we habitually call primary care is in fact secondary care, once the sufferer has become a patient, [and] has entered the medical arena.’ In other words, the beliefs, behaviour and actions of sick people who did not go to the doctor and remained ‘non-patients’. To explore the ‘non-patient’s view’, we have to look beyond self-care and the use of proprietary remedies and alternative medicine. The sociological term of the ‘symptom iceberg’, which refers to the aches and ailments that never reach the doctor, is used as a guide. In turn, historical examples to the following responses to symptoms are discussed: doing nothing; prayer; finding information; looking to family and friends; over-the-counter medicines. The chapter suggests how historians can research the ‘non-patient’s view’, by interrogating familiar sources in new ways and finding novel sources, many of which will have previously been regarded as non-medical. Finally, the chapter considers the policy implications of this work in terms of recent attempts to ease pressures on healthcare systems that encourage people ‘not to see the doctor’ and opt for self-care.

in Patient voices in Britain, 1840–1948
Coreen McGuire, Jaipreet Virdi, and Jenny Hutton

This chapter explores the interrelationships between embodied knowledge and assistive technology. Its primary focus is on interwar developments to respiratory technologies in Britain, but explores more broadly the extent to which consideration of users and user involvement has featured in the design of various technologies to facilitate breathing. The chapter uses under-utilised primary sources from the National Archives and the Royal Institution to examine mechanical respirators such as the Bragg-Paul Pulsator, then develop this user-focused framework to consider the later rise of ambulatory oxygen for home use. Considering how users have mattered in respiratory assistive technology highlights the problems with prosthetic designs which fail to consider the full social worlds of the user. Understanding these problems necessitates awareness of the longer history of their development and the longer-term problems inherent to ownership of the air. This relates to the politics of nationalised healthcare because ambulatory oxygen was outsourced from NHS pharmacy control in 2006. The chapter therefore concludes with a discussion of how standardised technology currently affects diverse users’ ability to engage with assistive technologies.

in Patient voices in Britain, 1840–1948
David Larsson Heidenblad

This chapter tells the prehistory of the big breakthrough in 1967 and situates this Swedish history within a larger international context. Was it really true that something radically new happened in the autumn of 1967? Had environmental issues not been discussed in a similar way before? Drawing on the existing literature, especially Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin’s landmark study The Environment: A History of the Idea (2018), longer trends are made manifest. What is emphasized in the chapter, however, is that this longer history of environmental concern took place outside the public eye, or was understood in a more narrow sense. The chapter addresses the importance of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and Rolf Edberg’s On the Shred of a Cloud (1966), and provides an in-depth account of when, how, and why Hans Palmstierna and Karl-Erik Fichtelius (editor of Människans villkor) became pioneering environmentalists. The chapter makes clear how the environmental crisis was linked to other global threats: nuclear war, overpopulation, and the depletion of natural resources.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
Open Access (free)
Postfeminist genealogies in millennial culture
Stéphanie Genz

Postfeminism is a concept loaded with contradictions. Loathed by some and celebrated by others, it appeared in the late twentieth century in a number of cultural, academic and political contexts, from popular journalism and media to feminist analyses, postmodern theories and neoliberal rhetoric. Critics have appropriated the term for a variety of purposes and movements, ranging from conservative backlash, Girl Power, third wave feminism and postmodern/poststructuralist feminism. This chapter untangles the semantic confusion surrounding a ‘post-ing’ of feminism by tracing postfeminism’s genealogy and considers its position within feminist histories. From here, the chapter investigates different incarnations of postfeminism and contemplates the possibility of a twenty-first-century, post-boom postfeminist stance – what the author calls bust postfeminism – that has emerged in response to a disillusioned and indeterminate recessionary environment characterized by deepening inequalities, dashed hopes and constantly lurking fears. It is proposed that bust postfeminism has given rise to distinct recessionary patterns and themes of heightened visibility in order to bare and illuminate the structural inequalities and power dynamics that have become glaringly obvious in the harsh post-oughts climate. In this sense, the current historical juncture requires that we re-examine how, or even whether, postfeminism is still relevant and in touch with a precarious post-millennium context.

in Post-everything
Howard Brick

Like most other post-prefix terms, the idea of ‘post-capitalist society’ originally appeared in a range of different guises, from the social-democratic vision of Anthony Crosland (1951, 1956) to the decidedly non-socialist expectations of Peter Drucker (1994). Yet Crosland’s attempt to outline a programmatic theory for the UK’s post-war Labour Party set the keynote of this ideological trend, within which George Lichtheim’s ‘post-bourgeois’ and Daniel Bell’s ‘post-industrial’ ideas also more or less fit. That trend lost steam with the global economic turbulence of the 1970s and the ‘neoliberal’ ascendancy that followed, which asserted that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism. From about 2005, however, and especially after the 2007–08 crisis, a new ‘post-capitalist’ discourse has re-emerged. This version appears more radically left wing than that of post-World War II social democrats such as Crosland. If the first version suggested that mid-twentieth-century society was no longer distinctly capitalist because it was already morphing into something else (some kind of statist ‘social market’ regime), the latest version clearly identifies and assails contemporary capitalism, seeking to surpass it in a new and different socialized order yet to come. The two different meanings highlight the ambiguity of post-concepts, which can suggest either a successor phenomenon built on (or growing out of) something given and familiar, or a strikingly new phenomenon that breaks decisively from a prior order of things.

in Post-everything