Category Archives: Uncategorized

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology: Week 2, 16th October

Speaker: Dr Julie Parle (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Title: The okapi, the wolf, the fellow, and the baboons: thalidomide in South Africa, 1956-1976

Abstract: Responsible for ‘the world’s worst and most poignant medical disaster’, thalidomide was first formally marketed on 1 October 1957, in West Germany. Instructions for its withdrawal were issued 49 months later, by which time thalidomide-containing products had reached more than 50 countries across the world, including 18 in Africa. Following a pharmaceutical okapi, and via fragmentary histories – those of a man called Wolf, a WHO Travelling Fellow, and several hundred baboons – I focus on the surprising presence and uses of thalidomide in South Africa, 1950s to 1970s. I suggest that tales of this teratogen may be of significance for widening global histories of this drug and for those of medical science and the state in South Africa in the twentieth century.

Conveners: Professor Rob Iliffe, Dr Sloan Mahone, Dr Erica Charters, Dr Roderick Bailey, Dr Atsuko Naono

When: Monday 16th October at 16:00, coffee available from 15:30 in Common Room

Where: History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

More information:

Colloquium: Knowledge in Context


22-23 September 2017

University of Oxford

In 1997, Laurence Brockliss (Magdalen College, Oxford) and Colin Jones (QMUL) published The Medical World of Early Modern France, a landmark in the history of medicine because of its integration of social and institutional history with intellectual history.  It established a vibrant new approach to the history of medicine and knowledge of the early modern period while also encouraging Anglo-French intellectual exchange.  As 2017 is the twentieth anniversary of this work’s publication and the year of Laurence Brockliss’s retirement, colleagues and former pupils have organized a colloquium in their honour.  Scholars from a range of historical disciplines (classical scholarship/antiquarianism, philosophy, and the natural sciences) will discuss the ways in which knowledge is contextualized in early modern Europe and Britain.  Participants are also from a variety of national perspectives and locations, demonstrating the range of Brockliss and Jones’s impact in integrating intellectual history with other sub disciplines of history.

Organizers: François Zanetti, Floris Verhaart, Erica Charters

Registration: £40 (£20 for students/ECR/unwaged), to open 1 August.

For more details:


Library Christmas Closure and January Opening

From Monday 19th December, the Wellcome Unit Library will be closed for the Christmas period, and will remain unstaffed until Monday 9th January, when we will re-open as usual with the following opening hours:

Monday (9th Jan), Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 2:15pm-5pm
Wednesday: 4pm

Wellcome Unit Library staff will still be available via email until 5pm on Thursday 22nd December, and then from 9am on Tuesday 3rd January – please contact us if you have any questions, or to make future appointments. During these two weeks, the History Faculty Library and Radcliffe Science Library will be open as usual, and will be able to provide some material on the History of Medicine. Between 23rd December and 2nd January (inclusive), these libraries will also be closed.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas. The image below shows Christmas Day in a hospital ward in 1916 – hopefully not where you’ll be spending the festive season, but it looks pretty jolly nonetheless!

L0032764 Christmas Day in a ward of a hospital Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Christmas Day in a ward of a hospital. Watercolour by Nurse Dakin (?), 1917-18. Iconographic Collections catalogue no. 43390i 1917 By: DakinPublished: 1917. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

L0032764 Christmas Day in a ward of a hospital
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images;
Christmas Day in a ward of a hospital. Watercolour by Nurse Dakin (?), 1917-18.
Iconographic Collections catalogue no. 43390i
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0


ArgO-EMR Seminars (Anthropology Research Group at Oxford on Eastern Medicines and Religions)

unioxflogoUniversity of Oxford
School of Anthropology
51 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PE


ArgO-EMR Seminars
The Anthropology Research Group at Oxford on Eastern Medicines and Religions

Wednesdays 5–6.30pm
Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road
Michaelmas Term 2016

“Botanical Ontologies in Asian Medicine”

Week 1,   12 Oct        Jan M.A. van der Valk
(School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent)
Testing Tibetan materia medica scientifically: Hybrid ontologies in practice?

Week 3,   26 Oct        Dr Calum Blaikie
(Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Re-routing rhizomes: Himalayan plants and properties in transit

Week 5,   9 Nov        Dr Stephan Kloos
(Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Reassembling Sowa Rigpa:
From traditional culture to plant-based knowledge industries

Week 7,   23 Nov        Manuel Campinas
(London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
A comparative exposition of Chinese and Russian botanical ontologies

Convenors: Elisabeth Hsu and Paola Esposito,


CFP – Gender and Pain in Modern History

Birkbeck, University of London
Public Conference: 24 – 25 March 2017

Call for Papers – Deadline 14 October 2016

In 2012, The Journal of Pain published a definitive study about the relationship between gender and pain, showing that for the vast majority of ailments, women reported significantly higher levels of pain (approximately twenty per cent higher) than men. In a variety of historical contexts, the female body has been associated with heightened sensitivity of various types. These images were borne out by cultural representations of female delicacy. However, female bodies have also been singled out for their ability to bear heightened pain, especially during childbirth. Representations of male stoicism (or perceived lack thereof) in the face of pain have also been a powerful image in many contexts. Women and men have long been thought to experience bodily sensations including discomfort and pain in a variety of culturally and historically specific ways: pain has routinely been gendered.

This two-day conference focuses on the historical relationship(s) between gender and pain between the early modern period and the present day. It aims to foster discussion among experts working on women’s history, the history of masculinity, and the history of gender; the history of science, health, and medicine; and the history of the body, with perspectives from a variety of national contexts and disciplinary backgrounds. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Histories of female and/or male experiences of pain, including attention to uniquely female or male medical ailments or conditions
  • Attention to historical representations of pain as they relate to femininity or masculinity
  • Gendered experiences of emotional pain and trauma
  • Attention to the role of other categories including race, ethnicity, age, and class or mode of living as they relate to gendered experiences of pain
  • Intersections of pain and sexuality, including pain during intercourse, sadism and masochism
  • Intersections of pain and reproduction – attention to the history of pain during pregnancy and childbirth, and perceptions of fetal pain including during abortion
  • The effects of gender on engagement with medicine and medical practitioners
  • The responses of various medical and cultural communities to pain in women and in men
  • Pain, gender, and social relationships
  • Representations of gender, sensitivity, and pain in art, literature, film, and drama

Confirmed speakers include Professor Keith Wailoo, Townsend Martin Professor of History and Public Affairs (Princeton University), Professor Wendy Kline, Dema G. Seelye Chair in the History of Medicine (Purdue University), and Dr Lisa Smith (University of Essex).

Please send abstracts of up to 350 words together with a brief (1 page) curriculum vitae to by October 14, 2016.

This conference is organized by Dr Whitney Wood and Professor Joanna Bourke, in affiliation with the Birkbeck Trauma Project. This event is supported by the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. More information can be found at

The conference will be held at Birkbeck, University of London, located in Russell Square in central London. Following the conference, presenters will be invited to submit papers for a special journal issue or edited collection based on the conference themes.