Call for papers: History of medicine in practice

March 26-28, 2014, Uppsala University, Sweden

The aim of the conference “History of Medicine in Practice” is to stimulate a discussion about the place of history of medicine in a rapidly changing academic landscape, where discipline-based research and education are being challenged by demands for cross-disciplinary integration and extra-academic “impact.”

Increasingly over the past decades, historians of medicine have been asked to articulate and demonstrate the practical value and relevance of their work to pressing contemporary concerns; this development is currently accelerating. For example, it has been suggested that the history of medicine should display its utility as an instrument for evaluating decisions concerning bioethics and health care policy, as a resource for supporting the public engagement in medicine, and as an educational tool for integrating the humanities with medicine. The emergence of “medical humanities” is one example of this trend. At the same time historians of medicine have debated whether the burgeoning of methods and sources within the field has been productive. While many have considered the methodological perspectives and analytical techniques offered by, for instance, anthropology, sociology, feminist theory, and Science and Technology Studies as enriching and energising for their work, others have blamed these developments and trends for the indistinct disciplinary boundaries of the history of medicine and its uncertain institutional framework. At all events, it could be argued that this ambiguous status has enlarged the potential audience and impact of the field.

Although these questions have been addressed in various forums over time, they have less often been brought together for dialogue and debate. This conference, therefore, hopes to gather historians of medicine as well as professionals from the medical community and other sectors to discuss and reflect on, in particular, two topics: first the relevance and uses of the history of medicine, and second, the increasingly methodological and empirical complexity of the field. It will comprise thematic sessions with papers, two keynote lectures, and a concluding general discussion.

Keynote speakers are:
Professor Ludmilla Jordanova, King’s College, London
Professor Lene Koch, University of Copenhagen

The scientific committee of the conference invites proposals for papers on the following themes, though other topics within the broad framework of the conference are also encouraged:

• The relevance and uses of the history of medicine in politics, policy-making, ethical debates, and controversies within medicine
• The role of the history of medicine in medical education
• Methodological opportunities and challenges of cross-disciplinary research and collaboration
• Public history and public engagement of medicine

Abstracts for papers of 200-300 words should be submitted no later than October 1, 2013 to David Thorsén, Please provide full name, institutional affiliation, and contact details. The format of the conference (two parallel sessions) will not allow for more than c. 30 papers. By November 1, 2013 applicants will be notified if their papers have been accepted or not.

The conference, including lunches and conference dinner, is free of charge. There may be possibilities, in particular for junior participants (also PhD candidates), to obtain economic support for attendance. Please indicate in the application if such support is requisite for attendance and what level of support is needed (travel, accommodation, or both). More information about this will be publicised at a later date.

The conference will be two full days, i.e. morning to late afternoon March 27-28, 2014. Late afternoon/evening March 26 is reserved for registration, reception, and possibly one keynote lecture.

The conference language is English.

It is possible to apply for participation as attendant without giving a paper. The deadline for such applications is also October 1. For those interested, please indicate the motivation to take part in the conference. No economic support will be given to attendees who do not present papers.

Selected papers from the conference will be considered for publication.

The conference is organised by the Department of History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University, a leading centre of research and education in the history of medicine in Sweden.


Annika Berg, Uppsala University/Stockholm University
Maria Björk, Uppsala University
Maria Björkman, Uppsala University
Karin Johannisson, Uppsala University
Solveig Jülich, Stockholm University
David Thorsén, Uppsala University
Sven Widmalm, Uppsala University