The History of the History of Medicine, 1960-today

The History of the History of Medicine, 1960-today

The History of the History of Medicine, 1960-today Dr Claudia Stein Historiography has two meanings: A body of work written on a specific topic (i.e. the historiography of the history of anatomy) the study of the theories and methodology used by historians and

the development of history writing as an academic discipline. Theory: A theory is a system of assumptions, principles, and relationships posited to explain a specified set of phenomena. (For example, Michel Foucaults theories of power/knowledge)

Methodology: A methodology is often a whole set of methods developed according to a theory about how best to research and learn about natural or social phenomena. (For example, Sudhoff founded the first Institute for the History of

Medicine in Leipzig in 1906 Karl Sudhoff, 1853-1938 Director at John Hopkins University Institute for the History of Medicine, 1932-1937

He is in social medicine (medicine for all) and is fascinated by the medical system of the USSR Henry E.Sigerist, 1891-1897 History of Medicine before 1960s:

the analysis of text (very much focused on classical medicine; not material or visual objects) on thinking rather then medical practice on great men, great doctors; progressive development of the medical profession a celebratory story of progress and discoveries

Everything changes in the 1960s and 70s Womens liberation movement Founding members of Our Bodies Ourselves of the Boston Womens Collective Vaginal self-examination

groups as a way to explore the female body and defy male medical domination over it Various medical scandals. Thalidomide Scandal 1960s

This leads to an Increasing critique of the medical profession and a questioning of the great hero and progress stories Niklas Jewson, The Disappearance of the Sick Man from Medical Cosmology, Sociology, 10 (1976), 225-44 Ivan Illich, Limits to Medicine (1976); -- Medicial Nemesis: The Expropritation of Health (1974) Influence of neo-Marxist understandings of power and historical

development; everything is based on economic structures of a given society; suppression of the working classes (proletaria) (by the elites (bourgeoisie), doctors are part of the supressing system This neo-Marxist view is reflected in the term: Medicalisation the process by which nonmedical human conditions and problems (being gay, or having a liking for alcohol) come to be treated as a biological condition, and thus turned into subjects of medical study.

Characteristics of the new social history of medical history in the 1960s: On the political left; neo-Marxist, this has effect on their understanding of how power works (from above, related to the productive forces; alienation from the real medicine and the real body through the professional establishment, patient voice is silenced by profession)

A tendency to use sociology as an inspiration and method for work (quantitative data, sociological models and theories) Medical history as a way to empower those who are suppressed (women, indigenous groups etc.) The new social history of medicine is also shaped by developments in wider history writing in the 1960s and 1970s: the history from below

The Making of the English Working Class, 1963 Aimed at discovering the experience of the poor and neglected in history Re-discovery of historical narrative and

a turn away from sociology Historians turn to anthropology. Edward Palmer Thompson, 1924-1993 Cultural Turn from the 1980 Anthropology the study of humans, past and present. It aims to understand the

complexity of cultures across all of human history and thus draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. Influential is the work of the American anthropologist: Clifford Geertz, Thick Description: Towards an Interpretative Theory of Culture, in ibid, The Interpretation of Culture: Selected Essays (1973) Major impact on the history of medicine: Arthur Kleinmann, Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture (1980)

The new cultural history of medicine Roy Porter, 1946-2002 The Patients View: A History from Below excellent example to see how scholars moved from the new social history of medicine to the cultural history of medicine

Lingustic Turn: Analytical turn upon, or problematisation of words/language used in a given field of study. Also used to refer to the turn to linguistic philosophy in the late 20th century in the humanities and social sciences. Cours de linguistique gnrale (1916)

Ferdinand de Saussure, 1857-1913 Lingustics: scientific study of language in broadly three aspects: language form, language meanin and language in context During the lingustic turn Saussures ideas were applied to the

understanding of wider human culture; central claims became : Reality is unrepresentable in any form of human culture (whether written, spoken, visual or dramatic) No authoritative account can exists of anything. Nobody can know everything, and there is never one authority on a given subject Postmodern history writing: the most influential philosopher

Michel Foucault 1926-1984 Foucaults philosophical works are all histories and most of the them deal with the medicine and the life sciences from the Middle Ages to the present (1980s) Central Claims: power is always directed at the human body ( power aims to make it docile and obedient

Medicine/life sciences are central players in these games of power over the human body Medical/life sciences knowledge is not neutral or objective but part of the complex nexus of power/knowledge Scientific/medical knowledge is not universally true; knowledge is not discovered but constructed in a specific society History writing as a critique of the present

From these claims develop a new area of study in the history of medicine: The History of the Body Where are we now?

Global approaches (global cultural history of medicine) Medicine and health consumption/consumerism Material and visual culture of medicine Animals and the history of medicine The history of emotion (developed out of the history of the body)

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