Telephone: 02476 5 23428
Office hours: Monday, 9-10am; Tuesday 2-3pm
Please book an appointment only in my office hours (see 'booking' link under contact information). If you wish to arrange a different time, please email me in advance.
- Associate Professor (reader), since 2021
- Associate Professor (senior lecturer), History Department, since 2009
- Wellcome Trust Lecturer, History Department, University of Warwick, 2003-2008
- Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, University of Warwick, 2001-2002
- Dr. Phil., University of Stuttgart, 2000
- Magistra Artium (M.A.), Friedrich-Wilhelm University, Bonn, 1996
My current research focuses on the formation of the modern and postmodern subject since the seventeenth century at the intersection of science and medicine, politics and economy. The role of biopower or biopolitics, as understood by Michel Foucault as the processes by which 'life' emerges as the center of political strategies, is a key analytical tool to both of my projects.
The first one, The Birth of Biopower in 18th-Century Germany, investigates the slow unfolding of a multitude of biopower/biopolitical strategies and technologies since the late seventeenth century in the German-speaking lands. My project, which focusses on one of the most powerful German states at the time, the Electorate of Bavaria, takes a micro-historical approach to several 'biopolitical projects’, designed and overseen by governmental officials and/or private entrepreneurs. Such projects targetted the reorganization of country's reproductive and military medicine, the draining and cultivation of large areas of fenland for colonization and agricultural production, the experimentation with and introduction of new agricultural technologies and products, and large-scale nutritional experimentation with new food stuff (notably the potato). the overal aim was the linking of the health and well-being of individuals and entire populations with territorial systems for economic and political security of the country. These activities were rhetorically situated within the enlightened vision of a prosperous society in which individual economic gain and efficiency was pursued for the ‘common good’ of the nation. The project argues that by inciting, controlling, monitoring and optimizing the individual, the population, and the territory’s natural resources, these projects successfully seeded the implementation of new technologies and strategies that ultimately became fundamental to the governance of individuals and population of the modern liberal nation state during the 19th century. Indeed, these biopolitical strategies 'born' in the 'long eighteenth century' are still very much with us, fuelling the national and global political logic and governmental practice of today’s neoliberal states.
Although my main interest continues to be the world of early modern medicine and science, politics and economy, my strong interest in the history of biopower also drives my second project which takes me right into the twentieth century. Here, I focus on the how visual and material culture shapes these biopolitical agenda. Jointly written with Roger Cooter, The Spectacle of Hygiene: Capitalism, Visual Culture and Medicine in Britain and Germany, 1880s-1930s, investigates the close relationship between the rise of modern liberal governmental practices, forms of capitalism and the rise of modern science and medicine. Focussing on late nineteen- and early twentieth-century health and hygiene exhibitions and the budding advertisement industry around individual health and hygiene, we argue, that in order to understand why people began to take care of their bodies, and why physical fitness and productivity became so central to Western societies, we need to link the hygienic discourses firmly to the logics and practices of free market capitalism and Western conception of the individual in (neo)liberalism. Particularly around the turn of the 20th century, we claim, these discourses differed greatly in Germany and Britain due to fundamentally different understandings around the question of human nature.
My interest in the history and strategie of medicine, biopower and its relationship to socioeconomic rights are further explored in a Leverhulme Trust-funded International Network titled 'Rights, Duties and the Politics of Obligation: Socioeconomic Rights in History' (2015-2018) which I am co-directing with my colleague Dr Charles Walton. Network partner institutions include Harvard University, Sciences Po (Paris), the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fuer Sozialforschung (WZB), the Leibniz Institute, and the University of Lausanne.
- Being Human: Human Nature from the Renaissance to Freud (HI281)
- Knowledge, Nature and Power in Early modern Europe (HI395)
- Facing the Other: European Encounters with the New World (HI31B) (with Professor Rebecca Earle)
- Medicine and Science in the Enlightenment (HI921 - MA module)
- Historiography (module director 2013-2015, 2018-)
- (eds.), The History of Medicine (series: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies), 4 vols, (London: Routlege, 2015) (with Roger Cooter).
- Writing History in the Age of Biomedicine (Yale, 2013) (with Roger Cooter)
- Negotiating the French Pox in Early Modern Germany (Ashgate, 2009)
- Die Behandlung der Franzosenkrankheit in der Frühen Neuzeit am Beispiel Augsburgs (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2003).
Recent Articles/Book Chapters
- ibid., ‘Die Geschichte des Gesundheits-und Hygieneplakats neu betrachtet. Die ökonomische Neuerfindung des Wissens über das Selbst', in Sybilla Nikolow (eds) „Erkenne Dich selbst!“ Strategien der Sichtbarmachung des Körpers im 20. Jahrhundert (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2015), pp. 344-357 (jointly with Roger Cooter).
- 'Die „Geschichte der Hygiene“ in der Internationalen Hygiene-Ausstellung 1911 in Dresden', in Sybilla Nikolow (ed.) „Erkenne Dich selbst!“ Strategien der Sichtbarmachung des Körpers im 20. Jahrhundert (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2015), pp. 59-71.
- 'History and the Politics of 'Life',' in Miguel de Beistegui, Guiseppe Bianci, Majorie Gracieuse (eds), The Care of Life: Transdisciplinary Perspectives in Bioethics and Biopolitic (London, New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), pp. 135-148 (jointly with Roger Cooter).
- The Vissitudes of Fundamental Change’ – An Introduction’, in Roger Cooter and Claudia Stein (eds.), The History of Medicine (series: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies), 4 vols, (London: Routlege, 2015), pp. 1-32.
- ‘Getting’ the Pox: Reflections by an Historian on How to Write the History of Early Modern Disease', Nordic Journal of Science and Technology Studies 2,1 (2014): 53-60.
- 'Organising the History of Hygiene at the Internationale Hygiene-Ausstellung in Dresden in 1911', Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin, vol. 22, 1, (2014)
- 'Divining and Knowing: Karl Sudhoff’s Historical Method', Bulletin of the History of Medicine
87 (2) 2013: 198-224.
'Images and Meaning-Making in a World of Resemblance: The Bavarian-Saxon Kidney Stone Affair of 1580', European History Quarterly April 43 (2) (2013): 205-234.
- 'The Birth of Biopower in Eighteenth-Century Germany', Medical History 55 (2011): 331-337
- Visual Objects and Universal Meanings: AIDS Posters and the Politics of Globalization’, Medical History, 55,1 (2011): 85-108 (with Roger Cooter)
- Positioning the Image of Aids’, Endeavour, 34, (2010): 12-15 (with Roger Cooter)
- ‘Insights on Sight, History Workshop Journal 69, 1 (2010): 245-253
Cracking Biopower’, History of the Human Sciences, 23 (2010): 109-28 (with Roger Cooter)
Visual Imagery and Epidemics in the Twentieth Century,’ in David Serlin (ed), Imagining Illness: Public Health and Visual Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), pp. 169-192 (with Roger Cooter)
Protect Yourself’ in Public Health Campaigns: Getting the Message Across (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2009), pp. 66-88 (with Roger Cooter)
- Coming into Focus: Posters, Power, and Visual Culture in the History of Medicine’, Medizinhistorisches Journal 42 (2007): 180-209 (with Roger Cooter)
- Johann Anton von Wolter (1711-1778): A Bavarian Court Physician between Aufklärung and Reform’, in Medicine and Religion in Enlightenment Europe, ed. by Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham (Ashgate, 2007), pp. 173-193
- The Meaning of Signs: Diagnosing the French Pox in Early Modern Augsburg’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 80, 4 (2006): 617-647
- I am happy to supervise postgraduate research topics broadly concerned with medicine and science from 1500-early 20th century. More specifically, I am interested in projects related to the history of science/medicine and visual and material culture, the history of disease and epidemics. I also happy to supervise students with an interest in theory and historiography.