EAHMH Conference 2019: Sense and Nonsense

Sense and Nonsense
S3N$e & nonβÕNze

27th-30th August 2019, University of Birmingham, UK

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This biennial conference of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health marks the 30th anniversary of the Association since its founding conference in Strasbourg in 1989. The title of the conference has been chosen to recognise key themes at the heart of medical history debates and discussions, and will take place in the heart of England, at the University of Birmingham.

Confirmed keynote speakers include Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (University of Durham), Professor Robert Jütte (University of Stuttgart) and Dr Vanessa Heggie (University of Birmingham). Expert sessions on public engagement and social media, among others, will also be run by Dr Vanessa Heggie and Alice Roberts, television presenter and Professor of Science Engagement (University of Birmingham) specifically for early career scholars on the first day of the conference.


Call for Papers

In the most literal of senses, the Scientific Board welcomes abstracts that will explore the history of sense perception, singularly or collectively and within medicine and health globally over the broadest of chronologies. Centring on touch, taste, smell, sight, sound or the heightened, honed, dulling, disability or loss of senses, or touching on their employment through food, pain, analgesia, polluted streets or pestiferous zones – and the emotional responses elicited – this conference encourages engagement with the emerging field of sensory history and its potential to revisit many familiar topics in fresh ways and provoke new insights.

We particularly welcome proposals for panels touching on these and other topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Epistemologies of the senses through time
  • Animal, human, inter-species and transhuman senses
  • Reading non-verbal signals in medical and health communication
  • Extra/sensory perception and its metaphors across cultures and clinics
  • Looking, listening, touching, smelling and tasting in medical education, examination and diagnosis
  • Energy, chakras, meditation, mindfulness and the senses and their management
  • Pain, torture, itching, scratching, numbing and sedating as experience, punishment or therapy
  • Hyper-sensitivity, diversity, ability or disability through the senses, including burns, light sensitivity, synaesthesia, acute hearing or sight loss
  • Insensibility, numbing, drugs and psychoactive substances
  • Enabling technologies and technologies of touch, tactile imagery and haptic healing
  • Material culture and experiences of space through the senses, health, illness or as patients
  • Feeling and feelings, both injured and healed
  • Mental capacity, signs of reason, neurological signs and auras
  • Fever, chills, hallucination, delusion and trauma
  • Nonsense, speaking in tongues, gibberish and jargon
  • Paradigm shifts and schisms in medicine and medical history
  • Ethics, experimentation and the return to common sense
  • Experiments, therapies or designs using the senses or sensory deprivation
  • Making sense of medicine and translating ideas into practice
  • Geographies of the senses; virtual worlds, simulation and technology


Individual submissions will be received until 30 Jan. 2019 and should comprise of a 250-word abstract, including five key words, and a one-page CV with contact information. Panel submissions should ideally include three papers (each with 250-word abstract, keywords and short CV), a chair and an initial introductory 100-word justification. If you wish to organise a roundtable, please include the names of participants and short 500-word abstract. We also invite poster presentations and ideas of novel sessions. As this is an anniversary year, the organisers will also be collecting images and items commemorating the work and activities of the EAHMH since its founding – sense or nonsense, please bring anything you are happy to share.

All submissions should be sent to: eahmh2019@contacts.bham.ac.uk  

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Conference: ‘Leprosy and the “Leper” Reconsidered’

The organising committee reflect on the aims of this SSHM-supported conference, held in September 2018.  

Leprosy and the ‘Leper’ Reconsidered was an interdisciplinary conference that aimed to bring together scholars working in many periods and many countries, social scientists, physicians and biomedical scientists to begin a conversation that will unify and broaden the discourse on leprosy sufferers and leprosy. Leprosy is still categorised as a ‘neglected tropical disease’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In 2016, it was reported that there were 216,108 new cases in 145 countries.[1] Yet despite its widespread prevalence, it is thought of as a disease of the past. Indeed, historical perceptions and representations of leprosy as a uniquely repulsive and dangerous disease that demands the exclusion of the sufferer from mainstream society, persist even in the twenty-first century world.[2] One of the goals of this conference was to educate, not only other scholars of leprosy studies — regardless of their discipline — but also the wider community at McGill University and beyond.

The organisers of this conference — Dr. Elma Brenner, Courtney Krolikoski, Dr. Anna Peterson, and Prof. Faith Wallis — are medievalists specialising in the history of medicine and/or social welfare, with particular attention to leprosy. As such, we are acutely sensitive to the ways in which leprosy has been stereotyped as a paradigmatic ‘medieval’ disease, in the most sensationally negative sense of that term. This is unfortunate in two ways. First, the new histories of medieval leprosy pioneered by François-Oliver Touati, Carole Rawcliffe, and Luke Demaitre, have overturned previous ideas about how medieval societies viewed leprosy and treated leprosy sufferers.[3] Secondly, the inordinate focus on medieval leprosy has occluded other histories of leprosy in other parts of the world, and in other eras.

Our choice of Luke Demaitre and the eminent historian of Japan Susan Burns as keynote speakers for this conference signifies our intention to establish some balance and perspective in the global story of leprosy. Demaitre’s work, Leprosy in Premodern Medicine, is the canonical text for understanding, not only the development of the medical conceptualisation of leprosy, but also the interplay between medicine, society, culture, and law in the Middle Ages. Burns’ own work compliments and expands on Demaitre’s by exploring the disease in a modern context. Her forthcoming monograph, Kingdom of the Sick: Leprosy, Citizenship, and Japan,  focuses on leprosy throughout Japanese history from its characterisation as a ‘karmic retribution disease’ in the medieval period to the modern period wherein authorities attempted to control the illness through sanitation measures. She argues that in modern Japan leprosy has become part of the debate regarding the place of the chronically ill and disabled in society.[4] This pairing also speaks to our concern to reframed in the context of the history of colonialism and post-colonial societies. The experience of colonialism added a second layer of prejudice to the leper’s condition. Leprosy was a disease of tropical colonies where the colonisers implemented, either through the introduction of medical schools or through missionaries, the idea of segregation and isolation for those afflicted by leprosy. This approach has led to its own historical distortions; as well as reinforced the neglect of areas outside the colonial spheres, or in post-colonial leprosy.

Leprosy and the ‘Leper’ Reconsidered was conceived as a means to explore how communities have approached leprosy and leprosy sufferers globally by engaging historians, scholars of art, film, archaeology, religion and literature. At the same time, it will bring into the conversation new theoretical tools like disability studies, and new historical techniques like digital humanities. Nor will it neglect the crucial medical and scientific histories, as well as anthropological, archeological, and material culture contexts. This conference aims to do this, while also providing a space to the impact of this disease as it intersects with gender, class and race. It presents an opportunity to bring together such a chronologically, geographically and disciplinarily diverse group of speakers and presenters, from early to advanced career stages. We will also be addressing the complex and violent history of the term ‘leper’ as a means of anchoring the overall themes of this conference.

Our aim is to bridge the gap between scientists and social scientists to bring new clarity to questions about the human experience of leprosy, and to open new research opportunities.

[1] “Leprosy Fact Sheet,” World Health Organisation, last modified February 9, 2018, http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/leprosy.

[2] The ILEP is a federation of thirteen international NGOs based in Geneva, Switzerland. Their Triple Zero Campaign – Zero Transmission, Zero Disability, Zero Discrimination – has worked tirelessly not only to increase access to medical care for leprosy sufferers around the world, but also to educate and petition governments to end discriminatory practices against those afflicted from Hansen’s Disease. Currently, they are funding and supporting 700 projects in 66 countries in order to bring about the end of leprosy. See: https://www.ilepfederation.org/.

[3] Francois-Olivier Touati, “Les léproseries aux XIIème et XIIIème siècle, lieux de conversions?” in Voluntate Dei Leprosus: les lépreux entre conversion et exclusion aux XIIème et XIIIème siècles, eds. Nicole Bériou and François-Olivier Touati (Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 1991), 1-32; Carole Rawcliffe, Leprosy in Medieval England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2006); Luke Demaitre, Leprosy in Premodern Medicine: A Malady of the Whole Body (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

[4] Susan L. Burns, Kingdom of the Sick: Leprosy, Citizenship, and Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, Forthcoming).

Conference. Pretty Ugly: Early Modern Beauty, 1400-1800

This conference will take place at Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, London 10-11 January 2019. The conference is hosted and generously supported by Wellcome Collection, and further supported by the SSHM and the Universities of Birmingham and Exeter.

We invite proposals from PG students and ECRs for 3-minute lightning talks AND/OR posters for the poster exhibition during the conference. Please send a 100-word abstract, indicating if you are proposing a lightning talk, a poster or both, to prettyugly@contacts.bham.ac.uk by 31 October 2018.

Information about the conference, speakers and programme can be found at: https://prettyuglyconference.wordpress.com/.

For further enquiries and to register to attend the conference, please contact: prettyugly@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Conference. Vegetative Powers: Endowing Bodily Life from Late Antqiuity to the Early-Modern Period

Attendance is free of charge. To register please email Fabrizio Baldassarri.

Wednesday 12 September:
Location – Aula Archivio Antico, Palazzo del Bo
09.15 – Registration
09.30 – Welcome Address from Authorities of the University of Padua
“The Heart in the History of the University of Padua”, Gaetano Thiene


Session1 – The Vegetative Soul in Antiquity: Aristotle and Galen
10.00 – “Soul, Parts of Soul, and Vegetation in Aristotle” – Klaus Corcilius(Berkeley University)
10.30 – “
ὁμοίωσις φυτῷ in Galen: how our most fundamental capacities are plant-like” – Robert Vinkesteijn (Utrecht University)


11.00 – Coffee Break

Session2 – Scholastic Tradition, Renaissance Culture, and Chymical Knowledge

11.30 – “How to Explain Vegetative Powers of an Immaterial Soul?” – Martin Klein (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
12.00 – “Expanding the Parva Naturalia-Project: Albertus Magnus on Nutrition” – Roberto Lo Presti (Humboldt University Berlin)

12.30 – “Jesuit Vegetative Souls: Lessious and the Conimbricenses on men’s ‘lowest’ functions” – Cristiano Casalini (Boston University)


13.00 – Lunch Break


14.00 – “Towards the Elimination of the Anima Vegetativa: Some Intellectualistic Tendencies in the Jesuits Suárez and Arriaga” – Anna Tropia (Humboldt University Berlin)
14.30 – “Nicolas Taurellus on Forms, Vegetative Souls and the Question of Emergence” – Andreas Blank (Alpen-Adria University, Klagenfurt)
15.00 – “Generation and the Vegetative Soul: A ‘Hermetic’ Perspective from Marburg (1612)” – Elisabeth Moreau (Université Libre de Bruxelles/Radboud University Nijmegen)


15.30 – Coffee Break

Session3 – Early Modern Philosophical Investigations of the Vegetative Soul
16.00 – “Concoction, Transmutation, and Living Spirits: Francis Bacon’s Experiments with Artifical Life” – Dana Jalobeanu (Bucharest University)
16.30 – “The Vegetative Functions of the Soul in Descartes’ Meditationesand the ordo rationis” – Igor Agostini (Università del Salento)
17.00 – “Marin Cureau de la Chambre’s Conception of the Vegetative Soul” – Balint Kekedi (Aberdeen University)

20.00 – Dinner

Thursday 13 September
Location: Aula Cagnetto (or Anfiteatro Morgagni), ex-Istituto di Anatomia Patologica

Session4 – Cartesianisms
09.00 – “The First Editions of L’Homme: Cartesian Scholars and the Vegetative Soul” – Fabrizio Baldassarri (HAB Wolfenbüttel/ Università di Padova)
09.30 – “Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz and the Question of the Negation of the Vegetative Soul in his Cartesian Manuscripts” – Emanuela Orlando(Università del Salento)


Session5 – English Philosophy
10.00 – “Re-Inventing the Vegetable Soul?
More’s Spirit of Nature and Cudworth’s Plastic Nature Reconsidered” – Sarah Hutton (University of York)

10.30 – Coffee Break

11.00 – “Plants and Brains: The Vegetative Soul and Its Links with the Imagination in Early Modern Medicine and Philosophy” – Guido Giglioni(Università di Macerata)

11.30 – “Margaret Cavendish on Vegetable Life” – Justin Begley (Helsinki University)

Session6 – 17th-Century Medical and Philosophical Interconnections

12.00 – “Vegetative Epistemology: the Cognitive Principles of Life in William Harvey and Francis Glisson” – Daniel Schmal (Pázmány Péter Catholic University)
12.30 – “An Alternative to the Vegetative Soul: Galen’s Natural Spirit in the Late 17th-Century Medical Conception of Digestive Functions” – Fabio Zampieri (Università di Padova)

13.00 – Lunch Break

14.00 – “A Way to Atheism? Pierre Bayle on Plastic Life” – Martine Pécharman (CNRS – Paris)


Session7 – 18th-Century: The Resurgence of the Vegetative Soul

15.00 – “The Notion of Vegetative Soul in the Leibniz-Stahl Controversy” – François Duchesneau (Université de Montreal)
15.30 – Coffee Break

16.00 – “Newton’s ‘Vegetative Spirit’” – Kirsten Walsh (Exeter University)
16.30 – “Beyond Structure: Vegetative Powers from Wolff to Hanov” – Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

20.00 – Dinner


46th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine

Lisbon, Portugal

3-7 September, 2018


The 46th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, on September 3-7, 2018. The scientific sessions will take place at the Medical School of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, centrally located in Campo Mártires da Pátria.

Among the topics selected are:

Palaeopathology: modern research and scientific approaches
Ethnomedicine, ancient medicine
Women in medicine
Hospitals and medical assistance
Endemic and epidemic diseases: impact in history and society
Poisons, antidotes, and forensic medicine
Teaching of medicine, medical universities, and schools
History of anatomical thought and procedures
Jewish, Arabic, and Medieval medicine
History of surgery, obstetrics, and evolution of surgical techniques and instruments
Medicine at the Age of the Discoveries: Eastern and Western medicine
Medicine in Art and Literature
Medical collections and Museums
Great figures of medicine
Diseases and causes of death in great figures of history, medicine, politics, art, and literature
Medicine in war context: emergency medicine and discovery of new techniques


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There will also be a special panel devoted to the “History of Nephrology in the Iberic World”, organized in collaboration with the International Association for the History of Nephrology (IAHN). The social program will offer free visits to the Pharmacy Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology throughout the Congress, to all participants, while two half-day tours will be organized on specific days. Early bird registration will be until July 31st, 2018. Please, check the Congress website for more details and the registration form.

Conference: Health and Healing in Legend and Tradition

A two-day conference on Health and Healing in Legend and Tradition will be held on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September 2018 as the thirteenth Legendary Weekend of the Folklore Society, at the Spa in Scarborough, Yorkshire YO11 2HD.

There will be speakers on the legends of plague and blood-letting, holy midwives and the King’s Evil, passing-through rituals and short-sightedness in ballads, with the medical lore of saints, ghosts and witches.

The conference fee is £50 (day rate £30), cheques payable to Folklore Society. To book, contact Jeremy Harte, Bourne Hall, Spring Street, Ewell, Surrey KT17 1UF – 020 8394 1734 – bhallmuseum@gmail.com. For more details, see http://folklore-society.com/events/.

CFP: Special issue of Iranian Studies (Medicine and Public Health in Modern Iran)

Special Thematic Issue (or double issue)

Medicine and Public Health in Modern Iran: Historical and Sociological Perspectives

The editorial office of Iranian Studies is pleased to invite you to submit scholarly contributions on the general theme of the history and sociology of medicine and topics relating to public health in modern Iran. Topics of interest will include but are not limited to:

  • Traditional medicine and medical beliefs and practices in the nineteenth century and beyond: historical and anthropological approach.
  • Introduction of modern medicine and medical reforms in the twentieth century. Potential topics will include but are not limited to: evolution of medical terminology and texts, institutions of medical education and training, professional setups of health care and practice (in terms of professionalization of medicine), medical designs and architecture.
  • Epidemics and disease: diagnosis, treatment plans, prevention methods, and public discourse.
  • Health of the mind: psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis. Institutions of mental healthcare.
  • Medicine and public health as represented in the arts, literature, and film.
  • Addiction and substance abuse: historical and sociological approach.
  • Family medicine, maternity wards, vaccination, public access to healthcare, and related topics.
  • Sociology of ageing and geriatric medicine.
  • Pharmaceutical production and medication market: from traditional to modern.
  • Analytical surveys on medical laws and ordinances relating to medical and biological issues (such as birth control, gender reassignment, and stem cell research), and medical ethics (such as organ transplant and organ donation).
  • Recent fieldwork, archival accounts and/or reports on official as well as private collections of primary source material will be particularly welcomed.

Proposals should include a title, an abstract of around 300-500 words, accompanied by a one-page CV. The abstract should provide a clear account of (a) the paper’s overriding argument, (b) its contribution to current scholarly debates in the field, and (c) the range of primary source material that will be utilized in the paper.

Proposals due date: July 1, 2018.

Notifications to accept or decline the proposals will be sent out by the editorial office to individual authors on August 1, 2018.

Completed paper submissions via Iranian Studies online submission platform: January 1, 2019. All submitted papers will go through a preliminary assessment at the editorial office. Selected papers will subsequently go through a double blind external peer review process.

Please address all communications via email to:

Ali Gheissari

Editor-in-Chief, Iranian Studies

Department of History, University of San Diego

E-mail: alig@sandiego.edu





Colloquium: The Body in Colonial India



Illustration: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India. Caption: ‘Two men wrestling.’ Written at Hansi Cantonment, Hissar District, eighty-five miles north-west of Delhi for Colonel James Skinner. 1825. London, British Library.

Colloquium Date: July 7, 2018

Please join us for the Body in Colonial India Colloquium. Registration is free (including lunch) but space is limited. Please register by June 29, 2018. If you are interested in registering please complete the registration form through the link at the bottom of the page. Spaces will be held on a first-come, first-served basis.

Event Address: Goldsmiths, The University of London, Chesterman Room
Contact: kate.alison.imy@gmail.com

Event Schedule:

10:00-10:15 registration and tea/coffee
10:15-10:30: Opening remarks
10:30-11:30: Erica Wald, ‘Leisurely bodies: shaping social lives, spare time and respectability in colonial India’
11:45-12:45: Kate Imy, ‘Purifying the black waters: Ritual quarantine and Nepalese soldiers’ bodies in colonial India’
1:00-2:00: Lunch
2:15-3:15: Teresa Segura-Garcia, ‘Embodying Indian childhood: Children’s bodies and photography in the colonial period’
3:30-5:00 roundtable (Dr Nabaparna Ghosh, Babson College; Dr Laura Lammasniemi, Warwick, Dr Kanika Sharma, SOAS; Arnab Chakraborty, York; Sarbajit Mitra, SOAS; Bilal “Zenab” Ahmed, SOAS; Sinjini Chatterjee, SOAS)

Students and early career researchers may be eligible to receive travels support thorugh the SSHM: https://sshm.org/bursaries/ 

This event is being sponsored by the Royal Historical Society, the Society for the Social History of Medicine, UNT-International, and Goldsmiths. Special thanks to Julia Hauser (Kassel).

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History and Philosophy of Science Winter [Northern Summer] School: History of Psychiatry, Past Trends, Future Directions

13-17 August 2018, University of Sydney


We invite applications from graduate students and early-career researchers in the history and social studies of science and biomedicine, and related fields, for a five-day (southern-hemisphere) winter school focusing on scholarship in the history of psychiatry. This is an excellent opportunity for young scholars interested in some of the more exciting recent developments in the history, sociology, and anthropology of medicine, in particular those scholars seeking to integrate various approaches in the interdisciplinary analysis of psychiatry and its history.


The history of psychiatry has attracted sustained attention by historians of medicine over the past several decades. The attention to psychiatry was partly caused by broader public debates about the role of psychiatry in modern societies. During the 1970s, for example, critics such as Thomas Szasz condemned psychiatry as a pseudo-branch of medicine and as a tool of modern societies to force individuals to conform to arbitrary social standards or to forcibly confine them to mental hospitals which Erving Gofman characterised as total institutions akin to prisons and concentration camps. The historical/philosophical work of Michel Foucault contributed to these characterisations as well. These views greatly contributed to historical research on the history of psychiatry.


How relevant are the approaches to the history of psychiatry inspired by these critical views today? After deinstitutionalisation, there are hardly any mental hospitals left, the influence of psychoanalysis has greatly declined, and psychiatrists appear to focus more on psychopharmacology than on psychotherapy. During this winter school, we will evaluate past and current research on the history of psychiatry, discuss promising new trends, and focus on topics that we expect will be relevant in the near future. Topics that will be discussed include: Modern Research on Insane Asylums and Mental Hospitals; Colonial and Post-Colonial Psychiatry; Diagnosing Populations: Psychiatric Epidemiology; Deinstitutionalisation and community psychiatry; Trauma: Experience, Explanations, and Treatments.


We are looking forward to discussing these issues and many others, according to the interests of participants. Through a mix of seminars, small group discussions, and case studies, graduate students and early-career researchers will become acquainted with the most interesting research in the history of psychiatry. The workshop faculty will illustrate their arguments with examples of their own recent and forthcoming research. We expect participants to shape these discussions and to contribute ideas and examples from their own studies. Additionally, there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy Sydney’s harbor, beaches, food, and cultural activities.


The winter course will be taught by Mark Micale (University of Illinois), Hans Pols (University of Sydney), and several other local academics with interest in this area.


We have planned this winter school before the conference of the Society for the Social Study of Science, which will take place from 29 August to 1 September. There will be many interesting smaller events in the week preceding that conference.


Applicants should send a CV and a brief description (maximum one page) of their research interests, and how they relate to the topic of the Winter School, to hps.admin@sydney.edu.au (with a subject heading “Winter School Application”). Closing date is May 31, 2018. We will take care of accommodation expenses and meals for the period of the Winter School, but participants (or their institutions) will have to cover their own transport costs.


The Winter School is supported by the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science and the School of History and Philosophy of Science, and the International Research Collaboration Fund of the University of Sydney.