At this year’s American Society for Environmental History in Columbus, I am happy to present on my work on the intersection of medical and environmental history. My paper “Sites of Care and Control: Healthy Environments and Royal Navy Hospital Ships 1790-1815” considers three aspects of hospital ships to showcase the role of hospital ships within the network of naval medical care, with a focus on the medical and environmental underpinnings of hospital ships as sites of care and control. This is done through an examination of the ships themselves (the role of environment in the provision of medical care and the importance of ventilation) and as entities in a spatial medical network through the interactions of hospital ships with ships of the line and on-shore hospitals.
Anchored and Bound: Reading the Fixed and Movable Landscapes of Medical Isolation in the Nineteenth Century
Sat, April 13, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Hyatt Regency Columbus, Morrow
Chair: Melanie Kiechle, Virginia Tech
Taming the Falcon: Controlled and Vulnerable Environments in New York’s Floating Quarantine System, 1859-1873, Katie Schroeder, Case Western Reserve University
Sites of Care and Control: Healthy Environments and Royal Navy Hospital Ships 1790-11815 Dr. Erin Spinney, University of Oxford
Sullivan’s Island Pest Houses and the Corporeal Entanglements of the Slave Ship, Lindsay Garcia, College of William & Mary
For more information on Canadians and Canadianists presenting at this years ASEH, check out this guide from the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE).
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.
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.