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Current Seminar Series

Seminar Series, 2022-23

Centre of the History of Medicine in Ireland

CHOMI Seminars 2022/2023

Seminars will take place between 4 and 5pm Dublin Time at the UCD School of History, Newman Building, Room K114.

For digital attendance please register using the links below:

29.09.2022 - Judy Bolger (Trinity College Dublin): “A curious absence’: Tracing maternal deaths in Irish workhouses at the turn of the twentieth century" 

The history of Irish maternity services has focused largely on the nascent period of the early and mid-twentieth-century when the health of parturition women warranted attention from State officials and the subsequent improvement in maternal mortality rates. However, little scholarly attention has focused on such topics in the preceding decades when the facilities of maternal care were less cohesive and assessible. In the final years of the Poor Law in Ireland, the workhouse facilitated an ad-hoc form of maternal care which impoverished women utilised during childbirth. This paper examines the rate of maternal death within these Poor Law establishments focusing on the use of nosology within cause-of-death classification and through the use of maternal death case-studies to ascertain the role of the workhouse in poor women’s reproductive health. This research is constructed and framed through a broader analysis of large data extracted from the annual reports of the ‘Local Board of Governments’ and ‘Registrar General of Marriage, Birth and Death’, and supplemented with a micro-history assessment of maternal mortality from individual workhouse records and birth and death certifications. While the classification of maternal death was often misused or conflated, this paper addresses the direct evidence of death by ‘childbirth’ to determine if impoverished women were afforded with adequate maternal care services within the workhouses.

Register: https://ucd-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z4KqVjtxRTmwL9wMqC9YjQ

20.10.2022 - Miriam Lipton (Oregon State University): "An Alternative to Antibiotics: Soviet Bacteriophage Therapy and its Role in Cold War Politics" 

During WWII, the Allies had a secret weapon, one that helped save more lives than anything else. That weapon was penicillin--first discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming, and then later mass produced on an industrial scale by the Americans at the start of the war. Penicillin’s obvious utility and efficacy propelled the entire world onto the path of antibiotic dominance that continues into the present. Well, almost the entire world. While the Soviets were part of the Allied Powers during WWII and had access to penicillin, by war’s end they had virtually abandoned antibiotic research and instead focused on an alternative therapy, that of bacteriophages, a bacterial eating virus. In this talk I will discuss why the Soviets chose to focus on bacteriophages over antibiotics, and what bacteriophage research looked like in the first few decades following the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War.

Register: https://ucd-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-z5wB4ipQR-KWbObjyGsNw

17.11.2022 - Maziyar Ghiabi (University of Exeter): "Decolonising drugs history? Lessons from the Islamicate lifeworld of intoxication”

The aim of this paper is to provide a conceptual approach to writing decolonial drug histories and, at the same time, to attempt moving beyond decolonisation itself.  Firstly, it invites to rethink the names and words we use in writing drug histories, making a case for an alternative (decolonial) philology. Secondly, the paper reclaims the historical centrality of the ‘everyday’ as a site and time to understand the histories of ‘drugs’ and alcohol in the Islamicate (and colonial) world. Thirdly, the paper unearths a historical and epistemic figure of intoxication from 13th century Iran, known as the rend as bearing the potential to move beyond contemporary West-centric scripts while also being a paradigm beyond decolonisation. By going beyond ‘decolonisation’ this paper refers to the urgency to not comfortably seat upon decolonial critique as moral indignation towards the past, but to show that drug histories subsume radically different epistemologies and ontologies from those enunciated by coloniality/modernity. The paper presents data from early modern to contemporary sources.

Register https://ucd-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GAmgbcScQRGnsxo3Vi7ThA



Titles of talks to be announced


02.02.2023 - Matt Smith (Strathclyde)

02.03.2023 - Janet Weston (LSHTM)

23.03.2023 - Mathilde Gallay (EHESS)

13.04.2023 - Mathieu Bokestal (UCD)

Contact UCD Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland

School of History, Room J113, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8185