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CfP Health and Materiality: Histories of Health, Medicine and Trade across Cultures, 1600-2000

5-6 November, 2018*

Venue : Convention Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi

co-hosted by Global History and Culture Centre (University of Warwick, UK) & Centre for Historical Studies (JNU, New Delhi)

Full Programme  Venue Map


Organised by:

Anne Gerritsen, Professor, Global History and Culture Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry

Burton Cleetus, Assistant Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Background information:

Scholarly histories of trade, health and medicine tend to fit into two major narratives. Some see networks of commodity exchange as drivers for innovation and development, while others focus on the often-negative impact that new trade networks had on the health of (indigenous) populations. This research network, generously funded by the Wellcome Trust, seeks to probe the limits of these narratives by exploring the social, political and economic lives of medical commodities across time and space. Transnational history forms the framework, within which these enquiries on the intersections between medicinal, pharmaceutical and therapeutic commodities and trade are explored.

This workshop, co-organised by the Global History and Culture Centre at the University of Warwick and the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, aims to bring together scholars and students of transnational history, whose work has intersections with fields such as medicine, trade, knowledge and materiality. We invite advanced doctoral students and early career researchers working in these areas. We welcome papers that engage with the ways in which medical/therapeutic objects, goods and practices as well as technologies of production move and thereby shape the circuits through which they travel. We seek to conceptualise and historicise the transnational and global circulation of such goods and the material cultural practices associated with them. The workshop would be an ideal opportunity to facilitate conversation between senior scholars and advanced doctoral students/early career scholars to engage on these themes.

Possible themes for exploration include the following, but are not limited to these:

1. Therapeutic commodities and health. To what extent is the trade in therapeutic commodities a driver for health and discourses on health? How can we map histories of therapeutic commodities to larger social/cultural/eco histories? What are the limitations of this approach, and what alternative models can we identify for understanding the histories of therapeutic commodities?

2. Chronologies and Periodisation. Therapeutic commodities have been traded before and after the appearance of industrially manufactured pharmaceuticals. How significant is this transition? What kind of change has industrial modernity wrought on specific therapeutic/medical practices and regimes?

3. Mapping spaces. The trade in therapeutic commodities occurred across cultural zones and continents. Who were its major actors? What kind of associations, networks, and hierarchies emerged in these interactions? Can we map these historical transitions?

4. Research and the use of knowledge. How have networks of power intersected with the circulation of knowledge? How does power impact the agents and locations caught in this circulation? How do we move beyond the imperial power-knowledge nexus to rehabilitate the shifts and loci associated with this traffic? How important are transnational approaches to frame this topic?

*Dates changed due to Diwali and post-Diwali holidays in Delhi.