Harmful or Healthful? Medical Perspectives on Cannibalism in Early Modern Europe

When syphilis broke out in Europe during the late fifteenth century, people debated the disease’s origins. Many believed that it had arrived from the recently encountered “New World” (Eamon 2), but Bolognese surgeon Leonardo Fioravanti (1517-88) proposed that the outbreak was caused by cannibalism that had occurred during the French invasion of Naples in 1494….

Tropical Insects and the Colonial Entomopoiesis of Pestilence

In the era of human-induced climate change, insects have become the preeminent emissaries of Death, morphing the proverbial scythe into tiny tentacles of destruction. The invasion of tropical insects into the Global North has emerged as a key narrative template of the climate apocalypse: articles in scientific and journalistic outlets register the harrowing threat of…

Book Review: Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912

“Detachment is not the eternal emotional disposition of the surgical operator.” So concludes Michael Brown in Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912. By reconstructing the history of how emotions informed and often guided surgical decisions, he thoroughly dismantles any notion of the cold hearted surgeon.

Human Health, Animal Health

This past summer, I spent some time in the British Library paging through sixteenth- and seventeenth-century medical recipe books. My primary interest was finding remedies relating to appetite and the stomach. As someone who is interested in the history of animal-human interactions, however, I could not help noticing that some of these manuscripts contained remedies…

Ethnographically Capturing the Autoimmune: Textures and Surplus

 Ethnographically Capturing the Autoimmune: Textures and Surplus   My New Year resolves to avoid fitting in within academic circles that reductively evaluate and lazily quantify my professional and personal contributions. I am tired of defending: my dissertation, my philosophies, and, ultimately, myself. Mentors and elders have confessed that the purpose of academic hazing is to…