On the Relationship of the Military, Medicine, Society and State
Hamburg, 7 and 8 November 2014
This conference will explore the changing relationships between the early modern military, medicine, society and the state in an international comparative perspective. Military medicine became an integral part of military planning as well as an attractive area of practice for early modern surgeons and physicians. Since the 1990s, historians of medicine have shown an increased interest in military medicine from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century (e. g. Cook, Brockliss/Jones, Hudson, Storrs, Ackroyd et al). However, much of the research remained focused on British and French armies and navies. Health care in other early modern forces has so far only attracted limited attention.
Historians have pointed to the dynamic effects of a growing early modern military bureaucracy. The emerging fiscal-military/naval state profoundly affected the medical care of the sick and injured soldiers and seamen (e. g. Charters, Neufeld). From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century European armies saw the development of an ever more elaborate and centralised system of health care. These systems consisted of temporary field hospitals as well as permanent institutions of health care. They became integral parts of military administration and created experts as well as a specialised body of knowledge of military medicine. Military medicine developed administrative technologies to systematically record and assess the health of servicemen.
The effects of this early modern military-medical complex were not limited to the military population. Military medicine became a specialised area of study and experts in the field were integrated in the health care system of the emerging early modern state. The training of military surgeons and physicians was standardised, and practitioners with a military background used their experience to further their careers and obtain public office during peace time. The specific requirements of military medicine contributed to the development of new technologies of systematic clinical note taking and the keeping of patient journals and lists. The ability of military doctors, surgeons and administrators to deal with large patient populations administratively, and develop strategies for the prevention and the cure of diseases within a larger group of patients, contributed to the development of a public health system. This system was not only aimed at manipulating the health state of individuals, but of whole populations. Thus military medicine arguably played a key role in the development of public health policies and the formation of what has been called ‘bio-power’ in the eighteenth century.
We invite contributors to explore a wide range of topics related to early modern military medicine such as
- the administration and treatment of patients in field hospitals, including experimentation
- the operational relevance of field medicine
- the institutionalisation of military medicine
- education, training and career paths in military medicine
- the relationship between military and civilian medicine
- the role of military medicine in the formation of medical knowledge
- and the experience of disease, injury and invalidity
The publication of an edited volume based on the contributions to the conference is planned. The conference will be held at the Helmut-Schmidt-University, Hamburg (University of the German Federal Armed Forces) on 7 and 8 November 2014. Limited funding for travel and accommodation for speakers will be available. Bursaries for graduate students, who are a member of the Society for the Social History of Medicine may, be available. If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please email an abstract for your paper (200-300 words), together with short biographical information and contact details, to Dr Sebastian Pranghofer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send it to the address below by 22 April 2014. Confirmations will be sent out by 15 May. The conference language is English.
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