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Space Needle from International Fountain

The ASEH was held in Seattle, Washington from March 30-April 3rd.  The full program may be found here.  Check out the the conference hashtag #ASEH2016 on Storify. Find out more about my University of Saskatchewan colleagues who attended ASEH here.  I would like to thank the ASEH for generously providing me with travel funding.

Conference Highlights:

This conference was such a delight that it is hard to pick out the highlights.  It was great to meet so many other scholars with similar interests and such fascinating work.  I particularly enjoyed the plenary session on teaching environmental history to undergraduates, especially how to integrate environmental history into both the classroom space and the tremendous potential of the field for outdoor field trips.

Several panels and a roundtable considered the intersections of the history of medicine and environmental history.  Highlights for me include:

Climate, Politics, and the Body in the U.S. South

Chair: Conevery Bolton Valencies, University of Massachusetts-Boston

“Yellow Fever, Ecology, and American State Power, 1803-1820” by Kathryn Olivarius, University of Oxford

“‘Hot, Hotter, and Hottest’: Climate, Debility, and the Search for Therapeutics in the Antebellum Gulf South” by Elaine LaFay, University of Pennsylvania

“The ‘Italian Experiment’: Race and Labor in the Post-emancipation South, 1880-1920” by Jason Hauser, Mississippi State University

The connections between ideas of debility, radicalised conceptions of disease, and changing ideas of climatic harshness and my own work on enslaved African and Creole nurses in the West Indies provoked many questions about late-eighteenth and nineteenth century British/American medicine.

Rethinking the Nature of Health: Intersections between Environmental History and the History of Medicine

Moderator: Matthew Kingle, Bowdoin College


Dawn Bieler, University of Maryland-Baltimore County

Elena Conis, Emory University

Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Christopher Sellers, Stony Brook University

Ellen Griffith Spears, University of Alabama

Sarah Whitney Tracy, University of Oklahoma

In this roundtable environmental historians, historical geographers, historians of medicine, and scientists, considered the intersections between environmental history and the history of medicine.  Paying particular attention to preconceptions of disciplinary boundaries and suggesting ideas to move past these boundaries to promote a fruitful discussion of health, disease, the body, and environment.  It gave me a lot to think about, especially the connections I see in my own work on nurses and preventative medicine in the eighteenth century and how this environmental work can be situated at the intersections of these two historical fields of study.

My Panel:

Public Health and Environmental History

Chair: Josh MacFadyen, Arizona State University

“Regulators of an Internal Environment: British Naval Nursing in Late-Eighteenth Century Hospitals” Erin Spinney, University of Saskatchewan

“Starving Children, Scientific Nutrition, and the American Relief Administration’s Missing in Central Europe, 1918-1923” Paul Niebrzydowski, The Ohio State University

“The Janus-Head of Public Hygiene: Episodes from China’s Kiaochow as German Protectorate, 1897-1914” Agnes Kneitz, Renmin University of China

Thank you to Josh for chairing our panel and to my co-presentors for their thoughtful comments on my work!

Lovely Seattle:





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