Kinetic health: Ecologies and mobilities of prevention in Europe, c. 1100-1600

G. Geltner

Posted in Publications | Leave a comment

The dynamics of healthscaping: Mapping communal hygiene in Bologna, 1287–1383

Taylor Zaneri & G. Geltner

AbstractThis article traces how urban communities operating with a humoral or Galenic medical paradigm understood and confronted the health challenges facing them, using the extraordinarily well-documented case of Bologna, Italy. Working within a GIS environment, the authors spatially analyse over 3,500 events recorded by the Ufficio del fango concerning violations of the city’s health-related ordinances, augmented by other demographic and material data. As such, the study not only adds specificity to recent attempts to enrich the field of pre-modern public health, but also demonstrates that the Bolognese administration had a sophisticated and evolving understanding of communal health risks, and exposes several discrepancies between policy and practice.

You can read this Open Access article here.

Posted in Publications, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Underground and Over the Sea: More Community Prophylactics in Europe, 1100-1600

By Guy Geltner and Claire Weeda

AbstractPublic health historians have repeatedly shown that the theory, policy, and practice of group prophylactics far predate their alleged birth in industrial modernity, and regularly draw on Galenic principles. While the revision overall has been successful, its main focus on European cities entails a major risk, since city dwellers were a minority even in Europe’s most urbanised regions. At the same time, cities continue to be perceived and presented as typically European, which stymies transregional and comparative studies based at least in part on non- or extra-urban groups. Thus, any plan to both offer an accurate picture of public health’s deeper past and fundamentally challenge a narrative of civilizational progress wedded to Euro-American modernity (“stagism”) would benefit from looking beyond cities and their unique health challenges. The present article begins to do so by focusing on two ubiquitous groups, often operating outside cities and facing specific risks: miners and shipmates. Evidence for these communities’ preventative interventions and the extent to which they drew on humoral theory is rich yet uneven for Europe between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Methodological questions raised by this unevenness can be addressed by connecting different scales of evidence, as this article demonstrates. Furthermore, neither mining nor maritime trade was typically European, thus building a broader base for transregional studies and comparisons.

You can read this Open Access article here.

Posted in Publications | Leave a comment

Call for Papers: 27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists

Keeping Apart and Coming Together: Mobility Restrictions and Confinement as Health Practices in a Longue Durée Perspective

Theme: 2. Pandemics and climate change: responses to global challenges
8-11 September 2021

This session focuses on two key questions: how did past societies, especially after Antiquity, use strategies of mobility and spatial knowledge to overcome or to prevent climatic, environmental and epidemic catastrophes? How did human actors link these strategies to the promotion of human, animal, and environmental health? Pre-modern communities have always faced dramatic and sometimes severe crises, such as environmental devastation, failure of crops, pollution, the proliferation of disease in both humans, animals, and non-animals. Archaeology and history tell us that these crises have prompted shifts in the ways that people inhabited their settlements and surrounding landscapes. Mitigation of negative impacts and pre-emption upon of these events by careful planning often required changes grounded in movement and in use of space. Thus mobility and spatial thinking were connected to maintaining and fostering health and safety, triggering social and cultural changes of short or long duration, not only from a reactive but also from a proactive perspective. Such actions could include physically isolating or creating barriers to sick individuals, moving communities from resource poor locations to resource dense locations, constructing specific zones or facilities for waste removal, or conversely regulating or protecting sources of water and food. Therefore promoting health required the ability to recognize the risks contained or intrinsic to a place, and to implement solutions which removed, separated or mitigated the potentially harming matter.
The main aim of this session is to bring together scholars who can build on their chronological, geographical as well as disciplinary expertise to examine common patterns and dissimilarities in the ways that different societies coped with negative impacts of disease and climatic crises, especially through changes in mobility and in space organization. We particularly welcome interdisciplinary papers which involve the integration of different scientific methods (archaeology, history of science, anthropology, climatology).
The deadline for abstract submission is the 11th of February.

You can register and find more information here.

Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Politics of Movement: Exploring Passage Points in Responses to COVID-19 and the Plague in the Fifteenth-Century Netherlands

Authors: Janna Coomans, Claire Weeda

Abstract
Engaging the concepts of flow, circulation and blockage can help us to understand the trajectories of pandemics and the social responses to them. Central to the analysis is the concept of obligatory passage points through which networks must pass. Attempts by various actors to control the movement through them, be they government authorities, health experts and caregivers, economic producers or consumers, can create social tensions. Such tensions were duly recognised during the recurring outbreaks of the plague in the Second Plague Pandemic between the fourteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Analysing historical plague ordinances allows us to expose the power mechanisms impacting networks as they move through spaces, and to remain critical of how circulation is controlled and moralised. We argue that historians can contribute to reviewing these mechanisms behind the spread of epidemics and the responses to them from the perspective of movement and blockage.

You can read this Open Access article here.

Posted in Publications | Leave a comment

Book Review: “Fumiers! Ordures! Gestion et usage des déchets dans les campagnes de l’Occident médiéval et moderne”

Marc Conesa, Nicolas Poirier (dir.), Fumiers! Ordures! Gestion et usage des déchets dans les campagnes de l’Occident médiéval et moderne. Actes des XXXVIIIes Journées internationales d’histoire de l’abbaye de Flaran, 14 et 15 octobre 2016, Toulouse (Presses universitaires du Midi) 2019, 302 p. (Flaran, 38), ISBN 978-2-8107-0609-9, EUR 25,00.

Guy Geltner

“From cover to cover, this stimulating book brings to light the ways in which past societies managed waste, especially in the countryside. Or differently put, how communities extended certain matters in space and time in pursuit of sometimes competing agendas and under the restrictions imposed by matter itself and its physical surroundings. Ten case studies cover much of present-day France, with a further four chapters anchored in the British Isles, the southern Low Countries, northern Iberia and Majorca. The chronological scope is strategically broad, collectively stretching from the 13th to the 20th century, and is designed to question common assumptions about periodization as regards for instance agricultural production and urban waste management. Last but not least, the volume as a whole, and not few of its constituents, straddle different methodologies and several archaeological and historical sub-disciplines, once again in a conscious (and by all means successful) attempt to underscore the value of working across traditional divides.”

You can read the full review here.

Posted in Publications | Leave a comment

Call for Papers: Health, Environment and Urban Development in the Middle Ages

6-7 October 2021
Norwegian University of Science and technology, University Museum, Trondheim

The conference completes the Norwegian Research Council funded project “Medieval urban health: from private to public responsibility” (2017-2020), whose goal is to shed new light on how public health evolved from individual health practices to actions for public health; what factors caused this ground-breaking development? The overarching methodological principle has been to compare the natural and built urban environment in medieval Trondheim with the development of health, diet, and mobility. The basic information has been gathered from the large collection of well-preserved skeletons from medieval cemeteries in Trondheim. Biomolecular analyzes are applied to identify the character and volume of infectious diseases in the urban population during the period c. AD100-1600.

The aim of the conference is to share results and promote interdisciplinary debate amongst international colleagues who have worked across disciplines with research questions related to health, environment, and medieval urban development. We welcome papers from archaeology, history, ancient DNA, paleobotany, zoology, climate science, linguists, literary studies, and other relevant disciplines.

We welcome proposals for papers of 20 minutes in length (+ 10 minutes of discussion) engaged with the session themes.

Proposals should not exceed 200-300 words, and are to be sent to Elisabeth Forrestad Swensen, e-mail: elisabeth.swensen@ntnu.no by no later than September 15, and should contain the following information: Name, institutional affiliation (if any), Email.

Keynote speakers: Prof. Guy Geltner, Monash University, Melbourne and prof M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Centre for Geogenetics, University of Copenhagen

Organizing committee: Prof. Axel Christophersen (Department of Archaeology and Cultural History, NTNU University Museum), Prof. Hans K. Stenøien (Department of Natural History, NTNU University Museum), and senior research fellow Elisabeth Forrestad Swensen (Department of Archaeology and Cultural History, NTNU University Museum).

Sessions

Day 1:

9-12: Urban landscape and environmental impact

The medieval urban landscape created its own environmental challenges but seems also to have affected the town’s surroundings in a negative way. What environmental changes did the urban population face in long-term perspective? How did it change living conditions, nutrition and diet, mobility, and migration?  How did the urban population respond to these challenges? And what measures did urban authorities implement to meet the environmental changes?

13-16: Old history, new insights

What new comprehension of medieval urban health has developed from cross-disciplinary research in the wake of the development of techniques such as paleogenetic/genomics, stable-isotope analysis and lipid analysis?

Day 2:

9-12: Health history – an interdisciplinary field of research

Medieval urban health and disease cannot be studied in full, with insight into the complex relations that exist between health and social conditions, without utilizing all available empirical data. Consequently, the question is: how can we create interdisciplinary research practices regarding health and disease issues in medieval urban environments? What are the possibilities and challenges? And how do we communicate methodological problems across research traditions and knowledge ideals?

13-16: Looking into the future

New methods of analysis which have been developed in recent decades, at the intersection of physics, biology, and genetics, have provided opportunities to investigate new areas within health and disease development. We can find the answer to old, and ask new, questions. Where does the road lead into the future, regarding methodological opportunities and analytical approaches?

Posted in Announcements, Events | Leave a comment

Centring Race in History: Antiquity to the Present (online conference)

23-25 November 2020

Organised By:
International Centre on Racism, Edge Hill University, UK.
MONITOR Global Intelligence on Racism magazine, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Italy (EUI).
Department of History & Civilization, EUI.

What should be the place of race in historiography and historical practice? The last few decades have witnessed a flowering of the historical study of race. Yet most of this scholarship has been confined to late modern colonial, global, and postcolonial histories, with little interest from other fields. In medieval and early modern studies, the bulk of writing on race has been produced by those working in literature rather than history. And if we look to the big treatments of history that have been growing in popularity in the profession and the book trade in recent years, race barely features.
The aim of our conference is to confront this marginalization of race in history, and to consider how we can centre race in our discipline: theoretically, methodologically, and empirically. We are interested in submissions concerning every period of human history, and all fields in our discipline.

Claire Weeda will present her paper “Ethnic Stereotypes: Religion, Environmental Thought and Power in Western Europe 950-1250” on 24 November.

You can find the programme and register here.

Posted in Announcements, Events | 1 Comment

Flowing Together: A Workshop on Archaeological and Historical Approaches to Middle Eastern Water Management (7th-15th centuries)

12-13 November
Radboud Institute for Culture & History

This workshop aims to explore the various challenges, problems and potentials for collaboration between historians and archaeologists in the study of water management. Since early 2020, the NWO-VICI project ‘Source of Life’ has been combining archaeological and historical data to study the different ways in which water was managed in Middle Eastern cities and their hinterlands between the 7th and 15th centuries AD. As disciplines, archaeology and history share common aims and interests yet often produce data at different scales, both spatially and temporally, which relate to different groups of people and spheres of life. As a broad theme ‘water management’ encompasses an extremely broad variety of components including physical infrastructure, social institutions and individual actors. It is a complex task, therefore, to select which methods are most appropriate to combine, analyse and understand these different elements and the overall systems they created. The various sources of data-both material and textual-and the ways we choose to put these together affect the reconstructions of the past that we create. Through a variety of presentations exploring different case studies and methodologies that address different approaches, difficulties and best practice, this event aims to consider, critique and develop cross-disciplinary approaches to water management in the past from the combined perspectives of archaeology and history.

You can register and find more information here.

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Online Seminar: The Dynamics of Healthscaping

Friday, 31 July 2020, 16:00 – 17:00 (CEST)

Urban History summer seminar’s third paper in this series comes from the winners of Urban History‘s Dyos Prize for 2020, Dr. Taylor Zaneri and Professor Guy Geltner. This paper traces how urban communities operating with a humoral or Galenic medical paradigm understood and confronted the health challenges facing them, using the extraordinarily well-documented case of Bologna, Italy. Working within a GIS environment, the authors spatially analyse over 3,500 events recorded by the Ufficio del fango concerning violations of the city’s health-related ordinances, augmented by other demographic and material data. As such, the study not only adds specificity to recent attempts to enrich the field of pre-modern public health, but also demonstrates that the Bolognese administration had a sophisticated and evolving understanding of communal health risks, and exposes several discrepancies between policy and practice.

This talk will be held on Google Meet, the link to which will be made available 48 hours before the talk. This seminar will be recorded and made available online at www.cambridge.org/urbanhistoryseminars.

This seminar series is jointly organised by Urban History and the Urban History Group. We are grateful to the journal’s New Initiatives Fund for initial funding support.

You can find more information here.

Posted in Events | Leave a comment