I had a busy time at Congress 2016 in Calgary, Alberta! On Friday May 26th I attended the Canadian Writing Centre Association’s “Energising (Writing Centre) Communities” held at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. For my work at the University of Saskatchewan Writing Centre I was fortunate to have my attendance sponsored and to receive a travel grant from the CWCA.
The following day marked the start of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine Meeting at the University of Calgary. It was as always an exciting, fun, and stimulating meeting of historians of medicine and health.
Our panel “British Naval Medicine, State Control, and Authority in the Long Eighteenth Century,” was moderated by Dr. Whitney Wood of the University of London. My paper was entitled “Carers for the Sick or Drunken Accessories to Desertion? Nursing at Plymouth and Haslar Naval Hospitals, 1790-1815,” and featured a discussion of the dual role and perception of nurses who depending on the pressures of the navy and patient need, could either be viewed as trusted regulators of order or drunken accessories to desertion. The panel also contained papers by Dr. Geoffrey Hudson (Lakehead): “Not Suffering Saints: Mutiny in the Royal Greenwich Hospital, 1705-50,” and Dr. Matthew Neufeld (Saskatchewan): “The Birth of Biopolitics in Early Modern England: Manning The Royal Navy: 1690-1710.”
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.