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Medicine and culture in the nineteenth century

This collaborative volume explores changing perceptions of health and disease in the context of the burgeoning global modernities of the long nineteenth century. During this period, popular and medical understandings of the mind and body were challenged, modified, and reframed by the politics and structures of ‘modern life’, understood in industrial, social, commercial, and technological terms. Bringing together work by leading international scholars, this volume demonstrates how a multiplicity of medical practices were organised around new and evolving definitions of the modern self. The study offers varying and culturally specific definitions of what constituted medical modernity for practitioners around the world in this period. Chapters examine the ways in which cancer, suicide, and social degeneration were seen as products of the stresses and strains of ‘new’ ways of living in the nineteenth century, and explore the legal, institutional, and intellectual changes that contributed to both positive and negative understandings of modern medical practice. The volume traces the ways in which physiological and psychological problems were being constituted in relation to each other, and to their social contexts, and offers new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the twenty-first century.

Open Access (free)
Sex, family planning and British female doctors in transnational perspective, 1920–70

Women’s medicine explores the key role played by British female doctors in the production and circulation of contraceptive knowledge and the handling of sexual disorders between the 1920s and 1970s at the transnational level, taking France as a point of comparison. This study follows the path of a set of women doctors as they made their way through the predominantly male-dominated medical landscape in establishing birth control and family planning as legitimate fields of medicine. This journey encompasses their practical engagement with birth control and later family planning clinics in Britain, their participation in the development of the international movement of birth control and family planning and their influence on French doctors. Drawing on a wide range of archived and published medical materials, this study sheds light on the strategies British female doctors used, and the alliances they made, to put forward their medical agenda and position themselves as experts and leaders in birth control and family planning research and practice.

Editor: John Cunningham

This collection offers important new insights across a broad range of topics relating to medicine in Early Modern Ireland. Of particular note is the substantial attention devoted to the years before 1750, a period that has been relatively neglected in studies of Irish medicine. The book brings together an exciting selection of established scholars, such as Peter Elmer and Clodagh Tait, as well as a number of early career historians. Their work effectively situates Irish medicine in relation to long-term social and cultural change on the island, as well as to appropriate international contexts, encompassing Britain, Europe and the Atlantic World. The chapters also engage in various ways with important aspects of the historiography of medicine in the twenty-first century. Among the key subjects addressed by the contributors are Gaelic medicine, warfare, the impact of new medical ideas, migration, patterns of disease, midwifery and childbirth, book collecting, natural history, and urban medicine. A common thread running through the chapters is the focus on medical practitioners. The book accordingly enables significant new understanding of the character of medical practise in Early Modern Ireland. This collection will be of interest to academics and students of the history of Early Modern medicine. It also contains much that will be essential reading for historians of Ireland.

Author: Emily Cock

This book explores seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain’s experiences with and responses to the surgical reconstruction of the nose, and the concerns and possibilities raised by the idea of ‘nose transplants’ in this period. Challenging histories of plastic surgery that posit a complete disappearance of Gaspare Tagliacozzi’s reconstructive operation after his death in 1599, the book traces the actual extent of this knowledge within the medical community in order to uncover why such a procedure was anathema to early modern British culture. Medical knowledge of Tagliacozzi’s autograft rhinoplasty was overtaken by a spurious story, widely related in contemporary literature, that the nose would be constructed from flesh purchased from a social inferior, and would die with the vendor. The volume therefore explores this narrative in detail for its role in the procedure’s stigmatisation, its engagement with the doctrine of medical sympathy, and its attempt to commoditise living human flesh. Utilising medical research and book histories alongside literary criticism, the project historicises key modern questions about the commodification and limits of the human body, the impact of popular culture on medical practice, and the ethical connotations of bodily modification as response to stigma.

Calculation, paperwork, and medicine, 1500–2000

Accounting is about ‘how much’ and is usually assumed to be about money. It is viewed as a financial technology related to the administration of finances, costing, and the calculation of efficiency. But this book suggests a broader understanding of accounting, linking related perspectives and lines of research that have so far remained surprisingly unconnected: as a set of calculative practices and paper technologies that turn countable objects into manageable units, figures, and numbers that enable subsequent practices of reckoning, calculating, valuing, controlling, justifying, communicating, or researching and that generate and appear in account- or casebooks, ledgers, lists, or tables.

And Accounting for Health involves both money and medicine and raises moral issues, given that making a living from medical treatment has ethical ramifications. Profiting from the ‘pain and suffering of other people’ was as problematic in 1500 as it is in today’s debates about the economisation of medicine and the admissibility of for-profit hospitals. In current debates about economisation of medicine, it is hardly noticed that some versions of these patterns and problems has been with health and medicine for centuries – not only in the modern sense of economic efficiency, but also in a traditional sense of good medical practice and medical accountability.

Spanning a period of five centuries (1500–2011) and various institutional settings of countries in the Western world, Accounting for Health investigates how calculative practices have affected everyday medical knowing, how these practices changed over time, and what effects these changes have had on medicine and medical knowledge.

Historical and anthropological approaches to a changing regime of governance

What does global health stem from, when is it born, how does it relate to the contemporary world order? This book explores the origins of global health, a new regime of health intervention in countries of the global South, born around 1990. It proposes an encompassing view of the transition from international public health to global health, bringing together historians and anthropologists to explore the relationship between knowledge, practices and policies. It aims at interrogating two gaps left by historical and anthropological studies of the governance of health outside Europe and North America. The first is a temporal gap between the historiography of international public health through the 1970s and the numerous anthropological studies of global health in the present. The second originates in problems of scale. Macro-inquiries of institutions and politics, and micro-investigations of local configurations, abound. The book relies on a stronger engagement between history and anthropology, i.e. the harnessing of concepts (circulation, scale, transnationalism) crossing both of them, and on four domains of intervention: tuberculosis, mental health, medical genetics and traditional (Asian) medicines. The volume analyses how the new modes of ‘interventions on the life of others’ recently appeared, why they blur the classical divides between North and South and how they relate to the more general neoliberal turn in politics and economy. The book is meant for academics, students and health professionals interested in new discussions about the transnational circulation of drugs, bugs, therapies, biomedical technologies and people in the context of the ‘neoliberal turn’ in development practices.