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Locating Medical History

The Stories and Their Meanings

edited by Frank Huisman and John Harley Warner

Publication Year: 2004

The issues constituting the history of medicine are consequential: how societies organize health care, how individuals or states relate to sickness, how we understand our own identity and agency as sufferers or healers. In Locating Medical History: The Stories and Their Meanings, Frank Huisman, John Harley Warner, and other eminent historians explore and reflect on a field that accommodates a remarkable diversity of practitioners and approaches. At a time when medical history is facing profound choices about its future, these scholars explore the discipline in the distant and recent past in order to rethink its missions and methods today. They discuss such issues as the periodic estrangement of medical history from medicine, the influence of Foucault on the writing of medical history, and the shifts from social to cultural history and back again. Chapters explore the early history of the field, its transformations since the 1970s, and its prospects for the future. With diverse constituencies, a multiplicity of approaches, styles, and aims is both expected and desired. This volume locates medical history within itself and within larger historiographic trends, to provide a springboard for discussions about what the history of medicine should be, and what aims it should serve. Contributors: Olga Amsterdamska, University of Amsterdam; Warwick Anderson, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Allan M. Brandt, Harvard Medical School; Theodore M. Brown, University of Rochester; Roger Cooter, University College London; Martin Dinges, Institut f

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. vii-viii

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The idea for this volume grew from discussions at an international conference on the history of medical historiography held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, on 16–18 June 1999. The conference was supported by the Faculteit der Cultuurwetenschappen of the Universiteit Maastricht, the Nicolaus Mulerius Foundation in Groningen, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and the ...

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1 Medical Histories

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pp. 1-30

Historians of medicine tend to be very ready to assert that the past gives important perspective on the present—that understanding the experience and management of illness in the past can aid patients, clinicians, policy makers, public health officials, ethicists, and voting citizens as they make difficult choices. Some historians are explicit about their conviction that tracing how earlier societies ...

PART I: Traditions

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2 To Whom Does Medical History Belong? Johann Moehsen, Kurt Sprengel, and the Problem of Origins in Collective Memory

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pp. 33-52

Though he was not exactly the ‘‘father of biography,’’ well into the early modern era Plutarch (after 45–120 a.d.) was a much-read master of this genre. He founded a literary tradition by drafting the life stories of prominent personalities—war heroes and statesmen, famous poets, philosophers, and public speakers. At first, driven by pedagogic and philosophical considerations, he focused his attention ...

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3 Charles Daremberg, His Friend

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pp. 53-73

In mid-nineteenth-century France, a strong positivist program developed in medical history, based on the philosophy of Auguste Comte (1795–1857)—which in turn had been inspired by that of Fourier, Saint-Simon, and Hegel. Comte’s main book was Cours de philosophie positive (1839–1842), which brought him enthusiastic disciples, all of them convinced that the human race is perfectible and that this ...

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4 Bildung in a Scientific Age: Julius Pagel, Max Neuburger, and the Cultural History of Medicine

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pp. 74-94

Around 1900, Julius Pagel (1851–1912) and Max Neuburger (1868–1955)—together with Karl Sudhoff (1853–1938)—laid the foundations for the modern development of medical history.1 An increasing gap between medicine—newly defined by its grounding in scientific approaches and research methods of the modern experimental sciences—and the traditional methods and contents of ...

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5 Karl Sudhoff and ‘‘the Fall’’ of German Medical History

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pp. 95-114

Karl Sudhoff (1853–1938) was born in Frankfurt am Main on 26 November 1853, the son of a protestant pastor. He attended primary school and two years of grammar school in Frankfurt, after which the family moved to Zweibrücken and, shortly thereafter, to Kreuznach, where he completed his secondary education and gained his Abitur in 1871. In the autumn of the same year, he began medical ...

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6 Ancient Medicine: From Berlin to Baltimore

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pp. 115-138

The historiography of medicine cannot be studied in isolation from other intellectual and social developments. How historians choose and treat their subjects is affected not only by what seems of interest to them but also by the ways in which others around them write about similar topics. Even within one and the same enterprise, there may be important differences in national styles and national ...

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7 Using Medical History to Shape a Profession: The Ideals of William Osler and Henry E. Sigerist

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pp. 139-164

The history of medicine has always been heterogeneous, reflecting the diverse stances, programs, and agendas of its practitioners. In the nineteenth century, it already had many different formulations.1 As the field was reaching its first level of maturity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, different styles ...

PART II: A Generation Reviewed

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8 ‘‘Beyond the Great Doctors’’ Revisited: A Generation of the ‘‘New’’ Social History of Medicine

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pp. 167-193

A Bildungsroman for scholars within the field of the history of American medicine over the last three decades might be expected to take the traditional form of all coming-of-age stories: young whippersnappers question the wisdom of their elders, get sent into the wilderness to test their skills, come home wiser, if slightly bloodied, and ready to join the clan. Yet, when differences of race, class, gender, or ...

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9 The Historiography of Medicine in the United Kingdom

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pp. 194-208

We’ve all endured those ‘‘Twenty Countries in Seven Days’’ package holidays from which the wretched tourist emerges dazed and dizzy, remembering nothing at all about anywhere he’s been. If I attempted to visit all the main trends in British history of medicine in this occasion it would induce a similar sort of academic travel sickness. In the interests of mental health—yours and mine—I ...

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10 Social History of Medicine in Germany and France in the Late Twentieth Century: From the History of Medicine toward a History of Health

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pp. 209-236

What has distinguished the social history of medicine might be explained by contrasting it with other, earlier work. By and large, before 1970 medical history had been written by physicians, mainly for physicians, and about physicians and their world view. The social history of medicine, however, has tended to widen the focus to encompass all medical personnel, including, for example, nonacademically ...

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11 Trading Zones or Citadels? Professionalization and Intellectual Change in the History of Medicine

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pp. 237-261

Ronald Numbers, a historian of American science and medicine, published an article in 1982 describing changes in the history of medicine during the previous two decades.1 Numbers argued that in the 1960s, medical history in the United States already had begun its transformation from a subfield of medicine to a subfield of history. Linking the emergence of the social history of medicine to the ...

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12 The Power of Norms: Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, and the History of Medicine

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pp. 262-284

What is the origin of norms, whether vital or social, and from where do they derive their power? The same question runs throughout the work of George Canguilhem (1904–1995) and Michel Foucault (1926–1984), on the boundary between knowledge and ethics. Both took as a starting point, not norms as such, but the violation of norms—what is considered to be ‘‘abnormal’’ by societies: disease ...

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13 Postcolonial Histories of Medicine

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pp. 285-306

In the first issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Henry E. Sigerist urged his readers to consider carefully the spatial distribution of disease, not just its history. Since the late nineteenth century, pathological and physiological studies in medicine had nudged aside investigations of geographical influences on the character and distribution of disease, except perhaps in the tropics. ...

PART III: After the Cultural Turn

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14 ‘‘Framing’’ the End of the Social History of Medicine

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pp. 309-337

Apart from involving me in something close to writing my own obituary, framing the end of the social history of medicine is difficult for the simple reason that the subdiscipline’s roll into the grave was far from obvious or straightforward. The end was more in the manner, literally, of a passing—a sluggish, uneventful meltdown, nowhere much noticed or commented on. Indeed, the walking dead are ...

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15 The Social Construction of Medical Knowledge

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pp. 338-363

In the 1970s, social constructionist approaches were the subject of fierce debate, especially in English-speaking communities that were struggling to absorb ‘‘theory.’’ Now, although debates continue, social constructionism is regarded with less suspicion; indeed, it has become institutionalized in much that goes under the name of sociology of science, and perhaps by that token it is less subversive. It ...

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16 Making Meaning from the Margins: The New Cultural History of Medicine

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pp. 364-389

Once I’d hit on the phrase ‘‘making meaning from the margins’’ as a way of encapsulating the project of cultural history, it annoyed me even though it captured my thoughts quite economically. My title irritates me because it points to a tendency in cultural history toward fetishizing the marginal that invites caricature as the history of the weird or bizarre. A friend and I were working in the ...

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17 Cultural History and Social Activism: Scholarship, Identities, and the Intersex Rights Movement

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pp. 390-409

A couple of years ago, I found myself whining in an e-mail message to my friend and colleague Tod Chambers, a bioethicist at Northwestern University, that I was running so many fundraisers for the Intersex Society that I didn’t have time to do much new historical scholarship. ‘‘Ah, yes,’’ Tod wrote back, ‘‘those who remember history are condemned to fundraise.’’ I caught the reference to ...

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18 Transcending the Two Cultures in Biomedicine: The History of Medicine and History in Medicine

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pp. 410-431

Scientific knowledge always aims at generalized conclusions labeled as ‘‘laws of nature.’’ What matters in medicine is to meet the requirements of an individual human being who is particularly in need in the case of illness. The dilemma of science-oriented medicine can be characterized as follows: in the immediate encounter with patients, doctors have to put their generalized scientific knowledge ...

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19 A Hippocratic Triangle: History, Clinician-Historians, and Future Doctors

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pp. 432-449

Every Thursday afternoon, I put on my lab coat, checking the right pocket for my stethoscope (red for blood) and the left for my prescription pad (almost never used). Without an overcoat, even at –20° C, I walk the length of Stuart Street to the hematology clinic. The short trajectory takes me past the medical school, its library ...

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20 Medical History for the General Reader

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pp. 450-459

There was a time when purchasing a copy of Fielding Garrison’s classic, An Introduction to the History of Medicine,1 was among the first steps any fledgling devotee of the field would take as he embarked on his explorations. In those days, such acolytes included far more physicians than embryonic professional historians, of whom there were still very few. ...

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21 From Analysis to Advocacy: Crossing Boundaries as a Historian of Health Policy

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pp. 460-484

My doctoral dissertation, on which my first book was based, offered a historical assessment of the considerable social, cultural, and political obstacles to the successful treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. At the conclusion of my defense of the dissertation at Columbia University in 1982, historian David Rothman asked pointedly, ‘‘So what would ...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 485-489


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pp. 491-507

E-ISBN-13: 9780801892004
E-ISBN-10: 0801892007
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801885488
Print-ISBN-10: 0801885485

Page Count: 520
Illustrations: 4 line drawings
Publication Year: 2004