Episódios

  • In More Than Medicine: Nurse Practitioners and the Problems They Solve for Patients, Health Care Organizations, and the State (Cornell UP, 2020), LaTonya J. Trotter chronicles the everyday work of a group of nurse practitioners (NPs) working on the front lines of the American health care crisis as they cared for four hundred African American older adults living with poor health and limited means. Trotter describes how these NPs practiced an inclusive form of care work that addressed medical, social, and organizational problems that often accompany poverty. In solving this expanded terrain of problems from inside the clinic, these NPs were not only solving a broader set of concerns for their patients; they became a professional solution for managing "difficult people" for both their employer and the state. Through More Than Medicine, we discover that the problems found in the NP's exam room are as much a product of our nation's disinvestment in social problems as of physician scarcity or rising costs.
    Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.
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  • Fungal infections are amongst the leading infectious disease killers globally. They result in more deaths than malaria, and almost as many as tuberculosis. However, they are often overlooked, and receive less research attention and funding than viral or bacterial infections. Over the past decade, this has started to change as the emergence of resistance in fungal pathogens has caused global alarm. New, resistant organisms have emerged, and old familiar ones have become harder to treat - agricultural antifungal use is thought to be driving these trends.
    Dr Justin Beardsley spoke to Dr Natali Pearson about the problem of resistant fungal infections in Vietnam, describing how agricultural practices are contributing, and what can be done to mitigate the risks.
    Justin is a New Zealand trained infectious disease specialist and clinical researcher. From 2012 to 2017, he was based in the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, where he was focused on fungal infections. There, he conducted a multinational randomised clinical trial into adjunctive steroid therapy for Cryptococcal Meningitis in Southeast Asia and Africa, alongside other work on the epidemiology of fungal infections, immune responses in Cryptococcal Meningitis, pharmacokinetics of anti-fungal drugs in the central nervous system, and temporal trends in cryptococcal drug susceptibility. His current research focuses on the emergence of anti-fungal drug resistance, especially in Southeast Asia.
    You can follow Justin on Twitter: @_jbeardsley_.
    For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.
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  • Some books are new, others are newly relevant – and so worth looking at from a new, contemporary perspective. Such is the case with Susan Reverby’s book Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and its Legacy (UNC Press, 2013). When the book was published in 2009, our world was reeling from a global financial crisis that exposed how subprime mortgages disproportionately affected Black homeowners; today we reel from a global pandemic that has starkly exposed how Black Americans and other people of color are disproportionately affected by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and its effects. Another inequity connected to the pandemic relates to vaccine distribution and uptake: they are much lower among Black (and Latinx) than white Americans.
    Examining Tuskegee is a deeply researched work that ranges from the trial’s origins within a public health partnership between the Tuskegee Institute and the Public Health Service, to portraits of its protagonists – the researchers, the men who were its subjects, the complex Nurse Rivers, and the persistent Peter Buxton, whose efforts eventually exposed the full truth of the study after it ran for 40 years – to the ways it was portrayed in popular culture and the media, to matters of bioethics and presidential apologies. In our conversation, Susan Reverby explains what actually happened in the study – no, the men were not injected by the researchers with syphilis – what it meant 50 years ago, and how it pertains, or not, to issues such as vaccine hesitancy among African Americans today.
    Rachel Pagones is chair of the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego and a licensed acupuncturist. Her third book, an examination of the history of acupuncture as a means of social and political revolution, is under contract with the University of Michigan Press.
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  • Mary Brazelton’s new book, Mass Vaccination: Citizens’ Bodies and State Power in Modern China (Cornell UP, 2019) could hardly be more timely. During the Covid-19 pandemic, China was in the headlines of Euro-American media as the site of the first cases of the disease. China is also centerstage in Brazelton’s insightful, antiracist book—not as a source of disease but as the source of an effective and pervasive global public health strategy that other nations during the Covid-19 pandemic have strained to implement: mass vaccination.As a historian of modern China and a historian of medicine, Brazelton offers a trustworthy and well-documented account of the National Epidemic Prevention Board and its successor agencies during the republic’s war-torn twentieth century. The location—and relocation—of the Board and its refugee scientists was decisive, Brazelton argues. During World War II and Japanese occupation (1937-45), the Board’s labs and scientists decamped from China’s coastal cities to the mountainous southwest borderland of Yunnan—exactly because the area was rugged, sparsely populated, and far from China’s urban hubs. In Yunnan, scientists were not isolated, but rather set within an idiosyncratic health infrastructure and network of longstanding political rivals vying for sway in the region—including France to the south, UK to the east, the League of Nations in the capital, and everywhere indigenous rulers, who retained local authority as the Nationalist Party struggled to consolidate power in the early years of the republic. The distinctive geography, epidemiology, and communities of health knowledge in Yunnan channeled the Board’s research and strategies. This regional system, developed under the banner of the national Board, became the blueprint for public health interventions for the People’s Republic of China after the Communist Revolution (1949). In the 1970s because of its repressive practices, China was officially excluded from the global health community, which was dominated by Europe and the US under the World Health Organization. Yet, China’s program of mass vaccination and strategy of universal primary care directly informed practices of new and nonaligned countries.Brazelton’s important new book addresses a classic puzzle of biopolitics in the history of science and medicine: when and why did governing regimes build public health programs that prioritized changing people’s behaviors and values (sanitation, hygiene; mask wearing, social distancing) rather than changing people’s health with quick technical fixes—such as vaccination.The interview refers to the image on the book’s cover (also p130) and to the important, related work of Alicia Altorfer-Ong, Ruth Rogawski, and the Connecting Three Worlds project. The conversation was a collective interview by Vanderbilt students in Laura Stark’s course, American Medicine & the World.Laura Stark is Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, and Associate Editor of the journal History & Theory.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/medicine

  • Elise K. Burton’s important book, Genetic Crossroads: The Middle East and the Science of Human Heredity (Stanford University Press, 2021), documents how race and nation became fused in concept and in political practice. Over the past century, nation-building and race-making became interdependent through the sciences of heredity and their uses during wartimes and their aftermaths. The book provincializes Euro-American histories of science by centering the intrepid and non-innocent scientists from land along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea (often called by the imperial name of “Middle East”)—and their transnational networks. 
    The book tracks how scientists’ reputations, access to resources, and interpretations of data shifted from the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the repackaged race science around World War II, the 1967 Six-Day War, and the lingering state-backed violence of the present day. The sciences of heredity—including physical anthropology and medical genetics—have continued to be used to justify violence and territorial occupation, as much as humanitarian “resettlement” programs, storage of biospecimen, and building of research infrastructures for a cosmopolitan science. Today, “the anti-racist, progressive discourses surrounding contemporary human genome projects have so far been unable to overcome the territorial regimes and ethnic concepts produced by a century of conflict,” Burton writes, because “nationalism is sustained by particular practices of human genetics research—specifically, the need to describe human populations according to geography and ancestral history, coinciding with the two major constituent elements of the nation-state paradigm.”
    The interview refers to the important, related work of Jenny Bangham, Emma Kowal, Joanna Radin, Gayle Rubin, and Kim TallBear. The conversation was a collective interview by Vanderbilt Master’s students in Laura Stark’s seminar, Critical Bioethics: Jazmyn Ayers, Kell Coney, Anyssa Francis, Caroline Goodman, Lily Jaremski, Natalie Jones, Ashley Mullen, Enna Pehadzic, Olivia Post, Karrie Raymond, Christina Rosca, Cecile Sahel, Chad Smith, and McKenzie Yates.
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  • On 13 January 2020, Thailand confirmed the first known case of COVID-19 outside of China. As one of the world's most popular tourism destinations, with the majority of its travellers coming from China, this news came as no surprise. One year on, COVID-19 cases and related deaths have remained remarkably low in Thailand, and the country’s management of the pandemic has been hailed as a striking success. So what's the secret behind Thailand's COVID-19 response?
    Dr Anjalee Cohen joined Dr Natali Pearson to explore the many factors that have contributed to Thailand’s success in managing COVID-19 thus far, including the country’s long history of public healthcare, the overturning of medical elitism, the influence of certain cultural practices, and the critical role played by Thailand’s village health volunteers.
    Anjalee Cohen is a senior lecturer in the anthropology department at the University of Sydney. She joined the department in 2010 following research positions at the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales. She specialises in medical anthropology and Northern Thailand. She has published on youth mental healthcare experiences in Australia, methamphetamine use among northern Thai youth, as well as northern Thai youth subcultures, including violent youth gangs. She is author of Youth Culture and Identity in Northern Thailand: Fitting in and sticking out (Routledge 2020), which explores how young people in urban Chiang Mai construct a sense of community and identity at the intersection of global capitalism, national ideologies and local culture. Her current research focuses on the role and success of Thailand’s village health volunteers in preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
    For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.
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  • The Emergence of Modern Hospital Management and Organisation in the World 1880s-1930s (Emerald, 2021) uses a range of empirical evidence and case studies drawn from previously unpublished archival sources to offer one of the first international comparative studies on the transformation and modernization of hospital management globally, a century ago.
    Focusing on the key years between the 1880s and the 1930s, when millions of people crossed the globe and created new large health care needs in the largest cities of the world, Paloma Fernández-Pérez analyzes core themes from a business history perspective, like organization, ownership and the professionalization of management, to reach a new understanding about the history of modern large scale healthcare institutions from the United States to China, with particular attention to Spain.
    Paloma Fernández Pérez (PhD. in History University of California, Berkeley) is Professor of Economic History at the University of Barcelona. She is currently also a member of the Academic Board of the Emerging Markets Institute of the University of Cornell and an Invited Project Professor of the University of Kyoto in Japan. She is the founder, and coeditor in chief of the Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business recently accepted for indexation in the Scopus database of journal
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  • Decades of data cannot be ignored: African American adults are far more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white adults. But has science gone so far in racializing diabetes as to undermine the search for solutions? In a rousing indictment of the idea that notions of biological race should drive scientific inquiry, Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) provides an ethnographic picture of biotechnology’s framings of Type 2 diabetes risk and race and, importantly, offers a critical examination of the assumptions behind the recruitment of African American and African-descent populations for Type 2 diabetes research.
    James Doucet-Battle begins with a historical overview of how diabetes has been researched and framed racially over the past century, chronicling one company’s efforts to recruit African Americans to test their new diabetes risk-score algorithm with the aim of increasing the clinical and market value of the firm’s technology. He considers African American reticence about participation in biomedical research and examines race and health disparities in light of advances in genomic sequencing technology. Doucet-Battle concludes by emphasizing that genomic research into sub-Saharan ancestry in fact underlines the importance of analyzing gender before attempting to understand the notion of race. No disease reveals this more than Type 2 diabetes.
    Sweetness in the Blood challenges the notion that the best approach to understanding, managing, and curing Type 2 diabetes is through the lens of race. It also transforms how we think about sugar, filling a neglected gap between the sugar- and molasses-sweetened past of the enslaved African laborer and the high-fructose corn syrup- and corporate-fed body of the contemporary consumer-laborer.
    Rachel Pagones is chair of the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego and a licensed acupuncturist. Her book about acupuncture as a tool of medical, social, and political revolution in the United States is under contract with University of Michigan Press.
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  • If health policy truly seeks to improve population health and reduce health disparities, addressing homelessness must be a priority. Homelessness is a public health problem. Nearly a decade after the great recession of 2008, homelessness rates are once again rising across the United States, with the number of persons experiencing homelessness surpassing the number of individuals suffering from opioid use disorders annually. Homelessness presents serious adverse consequences for physical and mental health, and ultimately worsens health disparities for already at-risk low-income and minority populations. While some state-level policies have been implemented to address homelessness, these services are often not designed to target chronic homelessness and subsequently fail in policy implementation by engendering barriers to local homeless policy solutions. 
    In the face of this crisis, Ungoverned and Out of Sight: Public Health and the Political Crisis of Homelessness in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2021) seeks to understand the political processes influencing adoption of best-practice solutions to reduce chronic homelessness in US municipalities. Drawing on unique research from three exemplar municipal case studies in San Francisco, CA, Atlanta, GA, and Shreveport, LA, this volume explores conflicting policy solutions in the highly decentralized homeless policy space and provides recommendations to improve homeless governance systems and deliver policies that will successfully diminish chronic homelessness. Until issues of authority and fragmentation across competing or misaligned policy spaces are addressed through improved coordination and oversight, local and national policies intended to reduce homelessness may not succeed.
    Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
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  • The conventional approach to suicide is psychiatric: ask the average person why people kill themselves, and they will likely cite depression. But this approach fails to recognize suicide’s social causes. People kill themselves because of breakups and divorces, because of lost jobs and ruined finances, because of public humiliations and the threat of arrest. While some psychological approaches address external stressors, this comprehensive study is the first to systematically examine suicide as a social behavior with social catalysts.
    Drawing on Donald Black’s theories of conflict management and pure sociology, Suicide: The Social Causes of Self-Destruction (University of Virginia Press, 2020) presents a new theory of the social conditions that compel an aggrieved person to turn to self-destruction. Interpersonal conflict plays a central but under-appreciated role in the incidence of suicide. Examining a wide range of cross-cultural cases, Jason Manning argues that suicide arises from increased inequality and decreasing intimacy, and that conflicts are more likely to become suicidal when they occur in a context of social inferiority. As suicide rates continue to rise around the world, this timely new theory can help clinicians, scholars, and members of the general public to explain and predict patterns of self-destructive behavior.
    Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com.
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  • MeaningFULL: 23 Life Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, & Body Image Issues (Unsolicited Press, 2021) is a blend of motivational self-help, memoir, psychology, and health and wellness. Alli Spotts-De Lazzer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an expert in eating and body image issues, and a woman on the other side of her own decades-long struggle with food and body.A $702 billion global diet/nutrition and weight loss industry shows that people worldwide are devoted to achieving maximum health and their desired bodies. Yet mainstream approaches are failing these individuals, and sadly, science proves this. Intent on gaining the "health" and "happiness" that diets promise, consumers keep trying. They become sad and frustrated, believing they're failing when they're not. They simply need a legitimate, alternative path, which MeaningFULL offers. Through the contributors' diverse, real-life mini-memoirs followed by Spotts-De Lazzer's commentaries, readers will learn about themselves and discover their unique, unconventional formulas for conquering their issues. Along the way, MeaningFULL will also guide them towards more self-appreciation, wellness, and fulfillment.Alli Spotts-De Lazzer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a CEDS Certified Eating Disorders Specialist, a CEDS Supervisor, and a person on the other side of her own decades-long struggle with food battles and body dislike. Alli has presented educational workshops at conferences, graduate schools, and hospitals; published articles in academic journals, trade magazines, and online information hubs; and appeared as an eating disorders expert on local news. For more information you can visit her website https://therapyhelps.us/Her professional-related volunteerism includes co-chairing committees for both the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals and the Academy for Eating Disorders and creating #ShakeIt for Self-Acceptance!(R), a series of public events sparking conversations about self-acceptance through fun, motivating messages. She was named the 2017 iaedp Member of the Year, and Mayor Garcetti declared July 13, 2017 #ShakeIt for Self-Acceptance! Day in the City of Los Angeles. Alli feels fortunate to share MeaningFULL with readers. She regards it as the book I needed years ago. Elizabeth Cronin, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher with offices in Brookline and Norwood, MA. You can follow her on Instagram or visit her website.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/medicine

  • "Antipsychiatry," Esalen, psychedelics, and DSM III: Radical challenges to psychiatry and the conventional treatment of mental health in the 1970s. The upheavals of the 1960s gave way to a decade of disruptions in the 1970s, and among the rattled fixtures of American society was mainstream psychiatry. A "Radical Caucus" formed within the psychiatric profession and the "antipsychiatry" movement arose. Critics charged that the mental health establishment was complicit with the military-industrial complex, patients were released from mental institutions, and powerful antipsychotic drugs became available. Meanwhile, practitioners and patients experimented with new approaches to mental health, from primal screaming and the therapeutic use of psychedelics to a new reliance on quantification. In Break on Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture (MIT Press, 2020), Lucas Richert investigates the radical challenges to psychiatry and to the conventional treatment of mental health that emerged in the 1970s and the lessons they offer for current debates. Drawing on archives and government documents, medical journals, and interviews, and interweaving references to pop (counter)culture into his account, Richert offers fascinating stories of the decade's radical mental health practices. He discusses anti-Vietnam War activism and the new diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder given to some veterans; the radical psychiatrists who fought the system (and each other); the entry of New Age-style therapies, including Esalen's Human Potential Movement, into the laissez-faire therapeutic marketplace of the 1970s; the development of DSM III; and the use of LSD, cannabis, and MDMA. Many of these issues have resonance today. Debates over medical marijuana and microdoses of psychedelics echo debates of the 1970s. With rising rates of such disorders as anxiety and depression, practitioners and patients continue to search for therapeutic breakthroughs. C.J. Valasek is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology & Science Studies at the University of California San Diego.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/medicine

  • Agnes Arnold-Forster's book The Cancer Problem: Malignancy in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Oxford UP, 2021) offers the first medical, cultural, and social history of cancer in nineteenth-century Britain. It begins by looking at a community of doctors and patients who lived and worked in the streets surrounding the Middlesex Hospital in London. It follows in their footsteps as they walked the labyrinthine lanes and passages that branched off Tottenham Court Road; then, through seven chapters, its focus expands to successively include the rivers, lakes, and forests of England, the mountains, poverty, and hunger of the four nations of the British Isles, the reluctant and resistant inhabitants of the British Empire, and the networks of scientists and doctors spread across Europe and North America.
    The Cancer Problem argues that it was in the nineteenth century that cancer acquired the unique emotional, symbolic, and politicized status it maintains today. Through an interrogation of the construction, deployment, and emotional consequences of the disease's incurability, this book reframes our conceptualization of the relationship between medicine and modern life and reshapes our understanding of chronic and incurable maladies, both past and present.
    Rachel Pagones is chair of the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego and a licensed acupuncturist.
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  • A compassionate and captivating examination of evolving attitudes toward mental illness throughout history and the fight to end the stigma.
    For centuries, scientists and society cast moral judgments on anyone deemed mentally ill, confining many to asylums. In Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021), anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker chronicles the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma—from the eighteenth century, through America’s major wars, and into today’s high-tech economy.
    Nobody’s Normal argues that stigma is a social process that can be explained through cultural history, a process that began the moment we defined mental illness, that we learn from within our communities, and that we ultimately have the power to change. Though the legacies of shame and secrecy are still with us today, Grinker writes that we are at the cusp of ending the marginalization of the mentally ill. In the twenty-first century, mental illnesses are fast becoming a more accepted and visible part of human diversity.
    Grinker infuses the book with the personal history of his family’s four generations of involvement in psychiatry, including his grandfather’s analysis with Sigmund Freud, his own daughter’s experience with autism, and culminating in his research on neurodiversity. Drawing on cutting-edge science, historical archives, and cross-cultural research in Africa and Asia, Grinker takes readers on an international journey to discover the origins of, and variances in, our cultural response to neurodiversity.
    Urgent, eye-opening, and ultimately hopeful, Nobody’s Normal explains how we are transforming mental illness and offers a path to end the shadow of stigma.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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  • As the push for a Universal Healthcare system in the United States becomes more and more popular among the American people, we’re beginning to have more public conversations about access to and affordability of medical care. While many of us may not consider our health insurance until we need it, for those with chronic conditions, the American medical system can be a nightmare of insurance claims bureaucracy and that prevents patients from getting the care they need at a cost they can afford. Worse, the rising prices of drugs and treatments developed in this for-profit system mean that some patients receive more medical care than they want or need, sometimes at the expense of their quality of life.
    When a young Katherine E. Standefer was suddenly diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome—the same congenital heart condition as her younger sister—she was faced with what felt like an impossible choice: implant a cardiac defibrillator and be forever tied to the American Medical System, or take a chance with death. In her stunning debut, Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life (Little, Brown, Spark, 2020) Standefer explores this system as both a patient and a consumer, visiting factories in California as well as mining communities in Rwanda and Madagascar where the metals in her defibrillator were sourced to learn more about the true human cost of the device that was meant to save her life. Throughout, Standefer wonders whether her life is worth this price, and asks us to reimagine approaches to care—both in medical and environmental.
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  • We are here today with Sara Ritchey, associate professor of history at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN, about her new book, Acts of Care: Recovering Women in Late Medieval Health, out with Cornell University Press this year, 2021.
    The author of Holy Matter: Changing Perceptions of the Material World in Late Medieval Christianity (Cornell, 2014) and numerous articles, including “Caring by the Hours: the Psalter as a Source of Gendered Healthcare,” “Health, Healing, and Salvation: Hagiography as a Source of Medieval Healthcare,” “The Wound’s Presence and Bodily Absence: The Experience of God in a Fourteenth-Century Manuscript,” Dr. Ritchey discusses her profound understanding in the intersection of religious practice (writ large) and the practice of medicine (writ large) in the Medieval era.
    In Acts of Care, Sara Ritchey recovers women's healthcare work by identifying previously overlooked tools of care: healing prayers, birthing indulgences, medical blessings, liturgical images, and penitential practices. Ritchey demonstrates that women in premodern Europe were both deeply engaged with and highly knowledgeable about health, the body, and therapeutic practices, but their critical role in medieval healthcare has been obscured because scholars have erroneously regarded the evidence of their activities as religious rather than medical.
    The sources for identifying the scope of medieval women's health knowledge and healthcare practice, Ritchey argues, are not found in academic medical treatises. Rather, she follows fragile traces detectable in liturgy, miracles, poetry, hagiographic narratives, meditations, sacred objects, and the daily behaviors that constituted the world, as well as in testaments and land transactions from hospitals and leprosaria established and staffed by beguines and Cistercian nuns.
    Through its surprising use of alternate sources, Acts of Care reconstructs the vital caregiving practices of religious women in the southern Low Countries, reconnecting women's therapeutic authority into the everyday world of late medieval healthcare.
    Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.
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  • As we mark the one-year anniversary of the COIVD-19 pandemic, take the time to listen to this discussion of previous efforts to fight yellow fever, cholera, and plague pandemics. Lukas Engelmann and Christos Lynteris’s Sulfuric Utopias: A History Maritime Fumigation (MIT Press, 2020) tells the story of the international dream of stopping the spread of infectious disease in global shipping networks. Their work shows how the interests of capitalism clashed with the efforts of public health officials. At the center of their narrative lies the Clayton, a machine which combined technocratic enthusiasm and necropolitical logic. Sulfuric Utopias brings together the history disease, capitalism, public health, and science. It is both a contribution to maritime history and urban history. Personally, I was so excited to interview two authors who know more about the history of rat killing than I do.
    Lukas Engelmann is a Chancellor's Fellow in the History and Sociology of Biomedicine, in the department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. 
    Christos Lynteris is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews. 
    Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.
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  • Medicine is most often understood through the metaphor of war. We encounter phrases such as “the war against the coronavirus,” “the front lines of the Ebola crisis,” “a new weapon against antibiotic resistance,” or “the immune system fights cancer” without considering their assumptions, implications, and history. But there is nothing natural about this language. It does not have to be, nor has it always been, the way to understand the relationship between humans and disease.

    Medicine Is War: The Martial Metaphor in Victorian Literature and Culture (SUNY Press, 2021) shows how this “martial metaphor” was popularized throughout the nineteenth century. Drawing on the works of Mary Shelley, Charles Kingsley, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Joseph Conrad, Lorenzo Servitje examines how literary form reflected, reinforced, and critiqued the convergence of militarism and medicine in Victorian culture. He considers how, in migrating from military medicine to the civilian sphere, this metaphor responded to the developments and dangers of modernity: urbanization, industrialization, government intervention, imperial contact, crime, changing gender relations, and the relationship between the one and the many. 
    While cultural and literary scholars have attributed the metaphor to late nineteenth-century germ theory or immunology, this book offers a new, more expansive history stretching from the metaphor’s roots in early nineteenth-century militarism to its consolidation during the rise of early twentieth-century pharmacology. In so doing, Servitje establishes literature’s pivotal role in shaping what war has made thinkable and actionable under medicine’s increasing jurisdiction in our lives. Medicine Is War reveals how, in our own moment, the metaphor remains conducive to harming as much as healing, to control as much as empowerment.
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  • An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America (Rutgers UP, 2021) explores the origins of both popular and elite theories of criminality in the nineteenth-century United States, focusing in particular on the influence of phrenology. In the United States, phrenology shaped the production of medico-legal knowledge around crime, the treatment of the criminal within prisons and in public discourse, and sociocultural expectations about the causes of crime. The criminal was phrenology’s ideal research and demonstration subject, and the courtroom and the prison were essential spaces for the staging of scientific expertise. In particular, phrenology constructed ways of looking as well as a language for identifying, understanding, and analyzing criminals and their actions. This work traces the long-lasting influence of phrenological visual culture and language in American culture, law, and medicine, as well as the practical uses of phrenology in courts, prisons, and daily life.
    Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.
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  • In 1524, Pope Clement VII gave two condemned criminals to his physician to test a promising new antidote. After each convict ate a marzipan cake poisoned with deadly aconite, one of them received the antidote, and lived—the other died in agony. In sixteenth-century Europe, this and more than a dozen other accounts of poison trials were committed to writing. Alisha Rankin tells their little-known story.
    At a time when poison was widely feared, the urgent need for effective cures provoked intense excitement about new drugs. As doctors created, performed, and evaluated poison trials, they devoted careful attention to method, wrote detailed experimental reports, and engaged with the problem of using human subjects for fatal tests. In reconstructing this history, Rankin reveals how the antidote trials generated extensive engagement with “experimental thinking” long before the great experimental boom of the seventeenth century and investigates how competition with lower-class healers spurred on this trend.
    Alisha Rankin's The Poison Trials: Wonder Drugs, Experiment, and the Battle for Authority in Renaissance Science (U Chicago Press, 2021) sheds welcome and timely light on the intertwined nature of medical innovations, professional rivalries, and political power.
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