Remember to forget: Pandemic research during a pandemic

Madeleine Mant // When did it hit you that COVID-19 was serious? Do you remember how you felt on March 20, 2020? Has that feeling changed? Since the outset of the pandemic in Canada, I have been leading a team of researchers examining responses to and perceptions of the outbreak. The University of Toronto, where…

Health histories from watery places: Seafaring bodies in the labour archive

Madeleine Mant // In the basement of an unassuming building on the Memorial University campus in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, lies the Maritime History Archive (MHA), curating the employment records of Britain’s Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS). Approximately 75% of all surviving logbooks and Agreements from 1857 to 1942 and 1951 to…

Behind the Beak: Plague Doctor Iconography in 2020

Madeleine Mant // 2020 is the year of the mask. Whether manufacturing, stockpiling, MacGyvering, sewing, 3D printing, or debating them, masks are (figuratively, if not literally) on everyone’s lips. The efficacy and culture of masks as personal protective equipment has been investigated for over a century’s worth of diseases, including the 1910-’11 Manchurian plague (Lynteris),…

Health by Post: Telemedicine and the Long Eighteenth Century

Madeleine Mant // The profound synergistic effect that distance—both geographic and sociocultural—plays upon health care access and outcomes is no surprise to contemporary physicians. As modern technological interventions such as eConsult, which allows patients’ cases to be ‘seen’ by a specialist without an in-person visit, become more commonplace, it is worthwhile to reflect on the…

Write/Right About Your Body

Madeleine Mant // I teach Introduction to the Anthropology of Health to an exquisitely diverse group of second-year undergraduate students. The class is a gateway prerequisite to all upper-level health-stream courses, thus it necessitates a balance between the biological and sociocultural aspects of health anthropology. Students are exposed to the work of Gregor Mendel and…

Medical Memories and Realities in Newfoundland and Labrador

Madeleine Mant // If you went looking for the Pilley’s Island hospital today, as I did one windswept July afternoon, all you would find is a private driveway at the top of a sharp incline, partially overgrown with the tall grasses and stout greenery typical of the Newfoundland and Labrador landscape. Down the hill, past…