Monthly Archives: February 2014

Wellcome Unit Seminar, Monday 3/3/14

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt

‘Medicine and Media’
Conveners: Dr Amelia Bonea and Dr Cressida Jervis Read

Week 7 – 3 March
Sarah Hodges, University of Warwick
The Progress of Plastic: Medical Garbage and its Afterlives in Contemporary India
This talk engages with the problematic of ‘medicine and the media’ in a very literal way—by looking at the medium of plastic within medical practice. In this talk, I use ‘the progress of plastic’ in two, slightly different, senses to think about the career of plastic in medicine: progress as ‘improvement’, on the one hand, and the meaning of progress as just ‘movement’, on the other hand.

In order to do this, this talk charts three modes of ‘the progress of plastic’ within the spaces of modern medicine:
(1)    The material ways in which plastic made its way into everyday clinical practice during the second half of the twentieth century
(2)    The discursive career of plastic as a sign of progress within medical practice: its rise and its reconsideration
(3)    An exploration of the movements of used, discarded medical plastic around the city of Chennai, India

What fuels these progresses of plastic? To anticipate my argument somewhat, I claim that the discursive and literal progress of medical plastic across Chennai is animated by conflicting perceptions of risk—and opportunity—that medical plastics present.”

Dr. Hodges works on the social and cultural history of modern South Asia, specifically the politics of health in colonial and postcolonial India (particularly the Tamil-speaking south). Her interests lie at the intersection of a number of fields: modern South Asian history, gender studies, anthropology, and the history of science, technology and medicine.

She is currently finishing a book about the waste economies of medical garbage in Chennai, India, titled: Biotrash: The Risky Business of Medical Garbage in India.

Selected publications:

Contraception, Colonialism and Commerce: Birth Control in South India, 1920-1940 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008).

Reproductive Health in India: History, Politics, Controversies, Editor (Delhi: Orient Longman, 2006).


‘Umbilical Cord Blood Banking and its Interruptions: Notes from Chennai, India.’ Economy and Society 42, 4 (2013).

Medical Garbage and the Making of Neoliberalism in India.’ Economic and Political Weekly (November 30, 2013).

‘”It all changed after Apollo”: Healthcare Myths and their Making in Contemporary India.’ Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 10, 4 (2013).

‘The Global Menace.’ Social History of Medicine (2012) 25,3, pp. 719-728.

Please note there is no parking at the Unit

Stethoscopes and Petticoats: The Changing Roles of Non-Conformist Women

The next exhibition at The Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, is Stethoscopes and Petticoats: The Changing Roles of Non-Conformist Women.

The exhibition will use materials from the Angus Library and Archive to demonstrate the amazing contribution that non-conformist women made to the changing social landscape of Britain and beyond, in the fields of literature, ministry, medicine and social reform.  On display will be items from the archives of the ground-breaking doctor Ellen Farrer; a Baptist Times article from 1900: Should Minister’s wives be paid salaries?; and an exciting recent discovery of a very rare tract by Elizabeth Heyrick arguing for the complete abolition of slavery: Reasons for substituting East India for West India sugar. Many items in the exhibition have not been on display before. The display is complemented by two free lectures:

  • Monday 17th March  5.30pm:    Cindy Aalders will speak on “The Life and Hymns of Anne Steele”. Anne Steele is recognised as the most significant female hymn writer of the 18th century, composing over 140 hymns, numerous poems and prose meditations, and setting many psalms to verse.
  • Wednesday 19th March 5.30pm:    Hilary Ingram will speak on “The Life of Dr Ellen Farrer”, a pioneer female doctor who set sail for InEllen-Farrer-Surgery-510x320dia in 1891.


Please visit:

Unit Seminar, Monday 24/02/14

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt

‘Medicine and Media’
Conveners: Dr Amelia Bonea and Dr Cressida Jervis Read

Week 6 – 24 February
Ann Kelly, University of Exeter
Field Station as Stage: Re-enacting Scientific Work and Affect in African Science
This paper, which is co-authored with Wenzel Geissler (Oslo University), describes a series of historical-ethnographic re-enactment experiments with elderly scientific workers, intended to provoke the aesthetic and affective dimensions of mid-20th century bioscientific research in an East African research station.

Dr Kelly’s work focuses on the practices of medical research and scientific production, with special attention to the built environment, material artefacts, and practical labours of experimentation in sub-Saharan Africa. Her ethnographic research has often been intertwined with medical interventions and disease control projects, which has given her the opportunity to reflect on the relevance of anthropological insights and methods for public health. These collaborations have inspired a number of conceptual questions, ranging from notions of experimental value, the role of ignorance and memory in the sciences, the problematic of disentanglement in human/nonhuman encounters, or the scale of political participation and the configuration of publics in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Throughout this work she combines ethnographic research with historical and archival work to explore how African locales operate as objects of knowledge and as sites of social transformation.

Selected publications:

Please note there is no parking at the Unit.

Unit Seminar 17/02/14

History of Medicine Seminar Series

Hilary Term 2014

Mondays, 2.15pm

Venue: Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road

All Welcome

Week 5 Seminar (Monday 17 February)

Dr Emm Johnstone
(Royal Holloway University of London)

Advertising Cancer: From British Reticence to the Rhetoric of Vulnerability,
Media Interest in Young Sufferers, 1960-1980

Conveners: Dr Amelia Bonea and Dr Cressida Jervis ReadEmmJohnstone220x272

Emm Barnes Johnstone is a historian of medicine with extensive experience of working with European museums of science and medicine and with patient groups and medical associations. She is an expert in using objects and texts to engage hard-to-reach audiences, and co-author of The Art of Medicine: Over 2000 Years of Medicine in Our Lives.


LECTURE: Dr Robert Hooke, F.R.S., M.D: Oxford Microscopist and Experimental Physiologist

LECTURE: Dr Robert Hooke, F.R.S., M.D: Oxford Microscopist and Experimental Physiologist

12 February 2014 1:00pm — 1:30pm


Convocation House, Old Bodleian Library (Map)


Dr Allan Chapman, Wadham College


Lunchtime lecture accompanying the exhibition Great Medical Discoveries: 800 Years of Oxford Innovation.

Following the lecture, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Great Medical Discoveries exhibition in person. Visit the exhibition room at the following times:

Monday to Friday 9am–5pm
Saturday 9am–4.30pm
Sunday 11am–5pm

For general enquiries about this event, please contact Wilma Minty, Dept. of Special Collections, Bodleian Libraries.



This event is free but places are limited so please complete our booking form to reserve tickets in advance. However, if places are still available on the day, early arrival might secure you a place.

Allan ChapmanAllan Chapman is a member of the Faculty of History and a Fellow of Wadham College. A prolific author, lecturer, public speaker, and television presenter, his engaging talks are not to be missed!

Unit Seminar 10th February 2014

‘Medicine and Media’
Conveners: Dr Amelia Bonea and Dr Cressida Jervis Read

Week 4 – 10 February
Aya Homei, University of Manchester
Looking into both Directions: The Positioning of Japan in Family Planning in Cold War Asia
With the case of Japanese involvement in the global promotion of family planning, I will highlight the centrality of geopolitics for the bio-politics of population. Family planning as international cooperation for Japanese actors was mobilised by Japan’s aspiration for socio-economic progress and technological future vis-a-vis world politics, which during the Cold War period was so informed by Japan’s position ‘in between’, in between its yarn for alliance with the US and the discourse of pan-Asianism permeating in Japan’s understanding and imagining of post-colonial East Asia.

Dr Homei is a Wellcome Trust Fellow at the University of Manchester. She examines the history of Japanese medicine from the Meiji period onward, with a particular focus on the three interrelated topics. They are:

  • History of midwifery in modern Japan
  • Medical research on radiation sickness in postwar Japan
  • Discourses on Japanese population in the immediate postwar period and its influence on Japans’ family planning initiatives since the 1960s

Currently she is conducting a project, ‘Family Planning, Health Promotion and global Medicine, 1945-1995: The activities of Japanese health campaigners around the world’, which is supported by the Wellcome Trust. In the project, she examines how Japanese family planning initiatives since the late 1960s (both governmental and non-governmental) in ‘developing countries’ unfolded under the aegis of overseas medical/technical co-operation and in the context of international health. As part of it, she also studies the trans-Pacific exchange of ideason Japanese population and birth control policies between Japan and the US during the immediate postwar period.

Selected publications

Michael Worboys and Aya Homei. Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States 1850-2000. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

“Sanba and Their Clients.” In New Directions in History of Nursing, ed. Barbara Mortimer and Susan McGann, (London: Routledge, 2005)

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt