PhD Position: Prophylactic Healthcare and the Urban Public

Project description

HealthScaping traces the development and impact of preventative healthcare policies, medical discourses and social and religious practices in the continent’s two most urbanized regions in the later Middle Ages, Italy and the Low Countries. The project taps numerous written, material and visual sources and archaeological data from several sites, and examines them also by critically engaging the insights of governmentality studies, cultural-spatial analysis and actor-network theory. A multidisciplinary team, also working in a Geographical Information Systems environment and generating innovative urban health maps, will recover earlier societies’ struggles with domestic and industrial waste, travel and labor hazards, food quality, and social and religious behaviors considered harmful or dangerous.

Within this framework, a PhD candidate proficient in Latin and the relevant vernacular/s will chart and analyse the dissemination of medical knowledge pertaining to prophylactic healthcare passed along several textual and visual conduits beyond the boundaries of traditional medical literature and in two distinct spheres. First, it will track the transmission of medical knowledge among the urban population – identifying medical arguments bearing upon the non-naturals (including quality of air and water, diet, evacuations, motion and rest), hygiene and the senses and their interpretation of physical and spiritual wellbeing in schoolrooms, from the pulpit as well as in urban households. Secondly, it will contextualize the dissemination of prophylactic knowledge and its application in normative sources regulating behaviour, for instance in municipal and guild statutes, regulations of brotherhoods and monastic regulae produced especially in cities in Italy and/or the Low Countries. Researching the interplay of arguments between medical knowledge, good citizenship and social hygiene in diverse behavioral scripts, this research will identify and study the specific urban milieus where medical knowledge was adapted and disseminated, thereby offering a unique insight into the levels of public health awareness and responses thereto, both of compliance and resistance, beyond academic environs.

The PhD candidate’s tasks will include:

  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within 4 years;
  • writing two peer-reviewed scholarly articles in major journals;
  • contributing to the project database;
  • active participation in and organization of project activities.


The successful applicant must have:

  • a completed Research MA or equivalent in medieval history or a related field in the Humanities;
  • knowledge of premodern health and urban history;
  • research experience in archives and manuscript libraries;
  • a thorough command of Latin and relevant vernaculars (Middle Dutch and/or Italian), excellent English and a working knowledge of pertinent modern languages, e.g. French, German, Italian, Spanish;
  • enthusiasm for collaborative, multidisciplinary research;
  • strong organizational skills.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


The appointment will be for 30.4 hours per week (0.8 FTE) for a maximum period of four years at the Department of History, European Studies & Religious Studies of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. The research will be carried out under the aegis of ASH. The appointment is initially for a period of 16 months; contingent on satisfactory performance it will be extended by a maximum of 32 months. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 September 2018. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €2,222 during the first year to €2,840 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

Applications should include the following information, in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • a letter of motivation;
  • a full academic CV;
  • a writing sample of c. 10.000 words (the equivalent of an article or book chapter);
  • the names and contact details of two referees who may be approached by the selection committee.

Applicants must have completed their RMA before the start of this PhD project.

Please submit your complete application no later than 15 February 2018 to

Only complete applications submitted as one PDF file to this email address will be considered.

Please state vacancy number 18-025 in the subject line of your application.

Interviews will take place in the first two weeks of April. For candidates living abroad, interviews may be held via Skype.

No agencies please!

You can see the original announcement here.

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Re‐thinking medieval and early modern pestilences from a biosocial perspective: advanced methods and renewed concepts in archaeological sciences, Barcelona 5‐8 September 2018

EAA Barcelona 2018 – 5‐8 September 2018
Call for Papers and Posters
Deadline: 15 February 2018

Re‐thinking medieval and early modern pestilences from a biosocial perspective: advanced methods and renewed concepts in archaeological sciences


While contagious diseases have affected the human species since its origins, great medieval epidemics (e.g. plague, leprosy, tuberculosis) have sparked particular interest for decades. In recent years, archaeology has played an increasing role in the scientific study of medieval pestilences, notably by providing reliable data on both the paleobiology of epidemic victims and their burial treatment. Despite the various breakthroughs reached by interdisciplinary research, the study of past epidemics still needs to get improved, particularly through an integrated analysis of biological and social dimensions of these diseases, which are closely interrelated. We invite contributions regarding both recent methodological advances in the retrospective diagnosis of infectious diseases and the output of archaeological sciences on social and cultural factors acting in human populations’ adaptability to these diseases.

The session shall address various questions, among which:
– What are the new lines of research and future perspectives in paleopathological and palaeomicrobiological study of these diseases?
– What information paleobiological data derived from skeletal assemblages can provide on the epidemiological characteristics of the diseases?
– What was the endemicity of diseases in various places, how did they evolve over time, and how did various diseases competed each other?
– How funerary archaeology and textual sources contributes to reappraise the history of these diseases (e.g. attitudes towards the victims in terms of their integration and/or exclusion, depending on the time period and cultural framework)?
– Which methodological implementation would be desirable in the future to allow retrospective diagnosis of still poorly-known diseases (e.g. ergotism)?

Keywords: Archaeology, Paleomicrobiology, Paleopathology, Medieval, Epidemics

Session details:
– Session theme: Theories and methods in archaeological sciences
– Session ID: #413
– Session type: Session, made up of a combination of papers, max. 15 minutes each

Session organizers:
– Dr. Dominique Castex, CNRS, UMR 5199 – PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France,
– Dr. Mark Guillon, Inrap, UMR 5199 – PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France,
– Maria Spyrou, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany,
– Marcel Keller, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany,
– Dr. Sacha Kacki, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, United Kingdom,

Abstract submission deadline: 15 February 2018

If you are interested to submit a Paper or Poster proposal, please use the conference website at https://www.e‐a‐

Further information, including registration details, general and practical information, etc. can be found on the conference website.

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To your health! EAA 2018, Barcelona, 5-8 September, session #208

To your health!

Tracing health in urban environments in medieval Northern Europe

Although inhabitants of Northern European medieval towns conceived of and knew about disease and “not being healthy” in ways other than ours, similar health risk factors were at play, such as poverty, lifestyle, environment, mobility and gender differences. This session aims to explore the relationship between health and the physical environment, including climate, nutrition, diet and mobility, are how they are linked together by complex cultural and social practices which constituted the dynamics of medieval urban living. There is considerable potential to come to a more in-depth understanding of the relationship between the advancement of public health and the physical factors that played a fundamental role in the development of the ‘medieval urban way of life’. New and improved methods in genetics, physics, paleometereology, archaeo-osteology, paleobotany, parasitology, archeo-zoology, histotaphonomy, high-density dating, etc. offer entirely new avenues to extract health- and environment meaning both from skeletal and conventional archaeological sources. How can these untapped sources provide profound new insights into the overall health of urban communities and shows how particular environmental elements in the urban landscape are linked to external factors, such as climate, nutrition, mobility and dietary practices.

Theme: Theories and methods in archaeological sciences

Session format: Session, made up of a combination of papers, max. 15 minutes each

Organisers: Axel Christophersen (Norway), Joackim Kjellberg (Sweden)

Submit paper abstracts through:

Contacts: or

Session 208 is associated with MERC

Take a look at their flyer: EAA 2018 session flyer

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Upcoming Conference – Representing Infirmity: Diseased Bodies in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy, Monash University, 13-15 December 2017

This conference represents the first analysis of how diseased bodies were represented in Italy during the ‘long Renaissance’, from the early 1400s through ca. 1650. Many individual studies by historians of art and medicine address specific aspects of this subject, yet there has never been an attempt to define or explore the broader topic. Moreover, most studies interpret Renaissance images and text through the lens of current notions about disease. This conference avoids the pitfalls of retrospective diagnosis, and looks beyond the modern category of ‘disease’ by viewing ‘infirmity’ in Galenic humoural terms. Papers explore what infirmities were depicted in visual culture, in what context, why, and when. Specific examples consider the idealized body altered by disease, and the relationship between the depiction of infirmities through miracle cures and through medical treatment. Speakers also examine how and why these representations change across media and over time. Thus, certain types of diseased bodies appear often in votive images, but never in altarpieces or sculptures; representations of wounds and sores grow increasingly less graphic and frequent, but with notable exceptions. Finally, it explores how the development of greater knowledge of the workings and structure of the body in this period, through, for example, the growth of anatomy, was reflected in changing ideas and representations of the metaphorical, allegorical, and symbolic meanings of infirmity and disease. The conference addresses the construction of the notion of disease, and aims to present a new paradigm for the field.

The event is open to all and free of charge, no reservation required.

Link to the event:

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Reminder: CfP in panels on Premodern Public Health in 2018 ESUH conference in Rome

CfP to a session/s on “Premodern Public Health: Comparing Cities, 1250-1750”

Deadline is fast approachng: 5 October 2017

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Two postdoctoral positions in HealthScaping, University of Amsterdam

PostDoc in Low Countries urban history (later Middle Ages)

Postdoc in European medical-cultural history (later Middle Ages)

Application deadline 24 September 2017; jobs begin 1 February 2018

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CfP to a session/s on “Premodern Public Health: Comparing Cities, 1250-1750”

We are delighted that a session we proposed for the European Association for Urban History Conference (Rome 29/8-1/9/2018) has been accepted. You can apply to submit papers for this session until 5/10/2017 (note the very early deadline). See the full details in the attached pdf.

CFP Public Health EAUH 2018

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Pre-modern Public Health @ The Medici Archives

Another group of projects, directed by John Henderson, and exploring preventative practices in medieval and early modern Tuscany:



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PhD positions in urban archaeology of health at NTNU University Museums

 NTNU University Museums announces two PhD positions in urban archaeology/historical archaeology and iron age/Viking age archaeology specializing in archaeological human genetics (please follow the links below).

For the project homepage see



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Call for Papers: Historical Aspects of Preventive Healthcare in Germany and Poland (Hamburg, 12-14 July, 2017)

From our colleague Fritz Dross (abstracts due 1 April 2017).

cfp Hamburg Preventative Medicine in History

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