Premodern Healthcaping brings together a group of medievalists across several disciplines to explore how urban residents in two of Europe’s most urbanized regions–Italy and the Low Countries–thought about and pursued population-level health. The 5-year project, funded by an ERC Consolidator grant, is based at the University of Amsterdam and builds on insights reached by scholars of premodern medicine, urbanism and material culture, which challenge the identification of public health as a uniquely modern phenomenon. Over the next years, this project will trace the development of community health, safety and wellbeing as a major aspect of the public good and as a key means of justifying and legitimating power in an urban context. It will explore the transmission of and tensions between medical theory and urban policy in this regard, and will examine the extent to which these were enforced from the political center outward, guarded and resisted by for instance major economic stakeholders, including the church, as well as neighborhood agents. Using a combination of methodologies drawing on anthropology, geography, cultural history and science and technology studies, this group seeks to define a new key for observing how historical communities aspired to live in places where health could bloom.
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