Centre of the History of Medicine in Ireland
CHOMI Seminars Spring 2022
All seminars will take place between 4:15-5pm, Dublin time zone.
Please register using the zoom links below.
Feb 10, 2022
Dr Emily Webster (UCD)
Estuarial Vectors in the Sanitary State: Hydrology, Shellfish, and Urban Typhoid Epidemics in Ireland, 1880-1910.
At the end of the nineteenth century, typhoid epidemics were in decline across the United Kingdom; improved water filtration systems, drainage schemes, and household sanitation were considered central to this transition. In the Irish towns of Belfast and Dublin, however, typhoid rates remained stubbornly (and remarkably) elevated, despite concurrent changes in these sanitary features. Dublin and Belfast’s typhoid epidemics happened not in spite of these sanitary interventions, however, but because of them. Examining hydrologic data, public health records, and sanitary infrastructure, this talk will argue that the twin epidemics in Dublin and Belfast related to common elements of their urban ecologies and cultural practices – and the way that imperial sanitary infrastructure disrupted them.
March 3, 2022
Prof Catherine Cox (UCD) and Prof Hilary Marland (University of Warwick)
Disorder Contained. Mental Breakdown and the Modern Prison in England and Ireland, 1840 – 1900
In this session Catherine Cox and Hilary Marland discuss their new book, Disorder Contained. Mental Breakdown and the Modern Prison in England and Ireland, 1840 – 1900 (Cambridge University Press, March 2022) The book is the first historical account of the complex relationship between prison discipline and mental breakdown in England and Ireland. Between 1840 and 1900 the expansion of the modern prison system coincided with increased rates of mental disorder among prisoners, exacerbated by the introduction of regimes of isolation, deprivation and hard labour. Drawing on a range of archival and printed sources, the authors will explore the links between different prison regimes and mental distress, examining the challenges faced by prison medical officers dealing with mental disorder within a system that stressed discipline and punishment and prisoners' own experiences of mental illness. The discussion will also examine medical officers' approaches to the identification, definition, management and categorisation of mental disorder in prisons, and varied, often gendered, responses to mental breakdown among inmates. With generous support from the Wellcome Trust Disorder Contained is published Open Access here
Mar 24, 2022
Dr Jen Keating (UCD)
Bioprospecting, global commodities and the more-than-human roots of empire in Russian Central Asia, 1880s-1916'
The environmental history of the Russian imperial rule in Central Asia has long focused on the region as a commodity frontier, noting the empire’s quest to manage water and to secure a domestic source of cotton, the ‘white gold’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Yet our explorations of cotton have arguably obscured numerous varied and more complex interchanges. This paper revisits the commodity frontier by exploring some unlikely global monopolies that revolved around bioprospecting – the exploitation of ‘natural’ resources for their biochemical uses in the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries. Developing a fragmented history of an interconnected world, this research draws on material from the forthcoming book On arid ground: Political ecologies of empire in Russian Central Asia. It reveals how plants and animals that were valued for their medicinal role in sustaining basic livelihoods and communities were one battleground where local practices, traditions and alternative understandings of value faced off against the modernising impositions of empire. Tracing cultivation, production and circulation chains from the steppes and riverbanks of Central Asia to the laboratories of Merck and the pig farms of the United States in turn uncovers intertwined ecologies as previously unfamiliar forges of empire in the heart of Eurasia.
Apr 7, 2022
Mirza Alas (UCD)
How the pipeline ran dry: towards a critical historiography of the antibiotic pipeline (1970-2020).
Centre of the History of Medicine in Ireland
Winter Semester 2021/2022
September 30th, 4-5pm (BST)
Dr Fiachra Byrne (Department of Justice, Ireland) and Assoc Professor Catherine Cox (School of History, University College Dublin)
'‘Straightening Crooked Souls’: Psychology and Children in Custody in 1950s and 1960s Ireland'.
This presentation explores the emergence of the ‘psychological child’ in Irish custodial institutions during the 1950s and 1960s, tracing the specific psychological theories and arguments deployed prior to the publication of the ‘Kennedy Report’ in 1970. Advocates of reform sought greater attention for the emotional and psychological needs of offending and non-offending juveniles in residential care settings. In this paper, we trace an overlooked influence on debates in Ireland, in particular post-war theories of child development, notably the English psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s attachment theory (Thomson, 2013). Bowlby was one of many influential psychiatrists and psychologists, including Ronald Winnicott, to focus on the family as a category of analysis in the post-war period. John Bowlby and ‘Bowlbyism, however, became particularly well-known and was explicitly referenced by advocates commenting on services in Ireland. Bowlbyism, with its focus on the close physical as well as emotional relationship between mother and child, we argue, aligned neatly with the Republic of Ireland’s 1937 constitutional settlement which affirmed the centrality of the traditional nuclear family and of women, assumed to be mothers, in the home.
October 7th, 4-5pm (BST)
Dr Sara Ebrahimi (School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin)
“Emotion, Mission, Architecture: Building Hospitals in Persia and British India, 1865-1914”
My journey into the field of the history of emotions started, somehow unknowingly, in 2011, when I visited the Church Missionary Society (CMS) hospital in Kerman (southern Iran) for the first time. This paper is about this journey: I discuss how the first impression that the buildings of the Kerman hospital left on me informed the direction of my project; it made me pick up on words ‘trust’ and ‘affection’ when reading the CMS materials and engage with the field of the history of emotions. I show how operating between, across, and at the edge of the history of emotions and histories of Christian missions and colonial architecture and healthcare proved to be rewarding. In other words, the history of emotions was an ‘other’ place from which I was able to ‘suggest alternative modes of inquiry’ (Rendell, 2007).
November 4th, 4-5pm (BST)
Dr Margaret Pelling (Center for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, University of Oxford)
`Erwin Ackerknecht and the social history of medicine revisited: power and influence’
Erwin H. Ackerknecht (1906-1988) was one of a deeply impressive group of physician-scholars who sought refuge in the US just before the Second World War. Many of these became associated with Johns Hopkins University and with the Bulletin of the History of Medicine. EHA was not Jewish, but left Germany because of his membership of far-left organisations, which he later abandoned. Like many refugees, EHA found it difficult to gain employment commensurate with his qualifications, and he ended his career in Zürich. EHA produced model studies of epidemic disease in America and therapeutics, but is generally best known for his book on the Paris hospital around 1800, and for a highly influential essay on anticontagionism which became the definitive reference for many wishing to indicate what is meant by the social history of medicine. This paper seeks to show that it is possible to challenge both EHA’s history and his historiography, at least in certain contexts. But the point can also be made that offering such challenge is not without risk.
November 18th, 4.15pm (GMT) – jointly organised with the UCD Gender History seminar series
Prof Sarah Dauncey (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham)
‘Gendering para-citizenship: an exploration of women, men and disability in modern Chinese history’
How have disabled men and women been conceptualised in modern Chinese history? In this talk, Sarah Dauncey looks at the construction of gendered disabled identities specifically from the perspective of Chinese cultural epistemologies. Drawing on her new theory of para-citizenship – a compelling framework for understanding the complex and shifting power relationships between disabled individuals and/or groups, the state and broader non-disabled society – as well as sociological theories of gender and the body, her research reveals how traditionally accepted notions of personhood are often fundamentally challenged through encounters and interactions with understandings of disability and gender. She provides engaging examples of the ways in which representations and narratives of disability negotiate the gendered identities of their subjects in relation to dominant discourses, where collective social, political and cultural understandings of what it means to live a ‘productive’ disabled life as a women or man are both imbued and contested.