Dynamic Balances: Public Health in the Premodern World

The ERC project Premodern Healthscaping hosted its final conference ‘Dynamic Balances: Public Health in the Premodern World’ at the University of Amsterdam on 29-30 September. During this two-day conference, the team members presented the findings of five years of research in numerous aspects of public health in pre-industrial urban Europe. Their propositions were challenged and expanded by contributions from scholars of public health in the Islamic World, South Asia, and Latin America of the same historical period. Here is the list of the presentations during these two days:

  • Edmund Hayes and Maaike van Berkel, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

     Water as a purifying agent in the governance of public health of the medieval middle eastern city

  • Carole Rawcliffe, University of East Anglia

     Fire Prevention in Late Medieval British Towns and Cities

  • Léa Hermanault, Universiteit van Amsterdam

     Interweaved knowledge: Empirical decisions, relations to natural environment and disseminations of Galenic texts during the Middle Ages in north-western Europe

  • Abigail Agresta, George Washington University

     Plague Hospitals and Public Health Infrastructure in Late Medieval Valencia

  • Lola Digard, Universiteit van Amsterdam

     ‘Que nul barrier ne soi si hardi’: The Medical Market as a site of biopolitical negotiation in Late Medieval Flanders

  • Nükhet Varlık, Rutgers University

     Imagined Healthscapes: Early Modern Ottoman Cities as Places of Health and Disease

  • Guy Geltner, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Monash University

     Preventative Healthcare among Miners in Europe, 1200-1550

  • Shireen Hamza, Harvard University

     Provisioning Ulema with Medicine in the Indian Ocean World

  • Francesco Bianchini, Kings’ College Cambridge

     Better Safe than Sorry: Hospitals, prevention and Healthscaping in Medieval Monsoon Asia

  • Justin Stearns, New York University, Abu Dhabi

     Healthscaping a World Ravaged by Plague: The Promises and Limitations of Islamicate Plague Treatises from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century

  • Carmen Caballero-Navas, Universidad de Granada

     Caring for Our People’s Well-being: Agents of Communal Health in Late Medieval Iberian Jewish Communities

  • Claire Weeda, Universiteit Leiden

     Vermin, disease and Public health in Europe, 1100-1600: Extermination, Exorcism and Purification

  • Janna Coomans, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Utrecht University

     Forced Motions: Poor Migrants and Changing Perceptions of Public Health in Northwestern Europe, 1450-1600

  • Edward Anthony Polanco, Virginia Tech

     Pactinemiliztli: Maintaining, Losing and Restoring Health in Early Colonial Central Mexican Nahua Communities

The gathering came to a conclusion through a plenary public event on 30 September. During this event Guy Geltner, Nükhet Varlık, and Peregrine Horden explored the history of premodern public health and reflected on possible future directions within this research field. Below is the title of their talks:

  • Guy Geltner, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Monash University

     Healthscaping Urban Europe and Beyond

  • Nükhet Varlık, Rutgers University

     Rethinking the History of Premodern Health

  • Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway, University of London

     Healthscape Picture Restoration: Is There a Risk of Over-cleaning?

The papers which were presented and discussed during the conference will be published in an edited volume.

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