Medical Identities in Global History

Approaches to global history often attempt to address the role of nation-states in the construction of historical narratives, while deconstructing the Eurocentric assumptions in the expression of history. Historians have now moved away from understanding history in terms of binaries and accepted that transfer, spread, diffusion, understanding of knowledge is multi-directional. In the history of medicine, these translations often involve the generation, negotiation, and interaction of identities.

This conference seeks to bring together postgraduate students, early career researchers, and scholars in history for a two day conference on the topic of medical identities in the past. Medical identities are grounded in the interactions between self, body, and health, with the social, political, cultural, and intellectual context of medical knowledge. Interrogations of these relationships in a global historical perspective reveal important narratives of identity creation and complex webs of power relations. 

In addition to panel presentations from a selection of speakers, this conference will host three engagement conversations: One focused on building collaborative networks amongst participants, one on public-outreach, and one round-table discussion for Early Career Researchers.


Indigenous North American symbol for the Medicine Wheel

Indigenous North American symbol for the Medicine Wheel

Historical themes for submissions:

  • Transcending geographical/national boundaries
  • Embodiment and experience of health, disease, or medical identities broadly
  • Intellectual and medical power connected with processes of imperialism / colonialism / territorial expansion and commercial gains in global markets
  • Indigeneity, ethnicity, and nationality
  • Hygienic modernity, medical education, hospital cultures
  • Movement and immigration, oceanic and territorial space
  • Eugenic theories, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry
  • Gender and Sex
  • Material culture - Objects - objects in migration
  • Role of media in identity construction

The conference is not exclusive in theme and welcomes submissions which reflect a diversity of approaches to the concept of medical identity. Proposals with a clear application to public outreach or interdisciplinary collaboration are especially encouraged.

This conference may be able to provide small travel grants for up to two postgraduate students, at the value of £150.00. Please mention in your email if you would like to be considered for one.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute paper presentations. Abstracts should be maximum 250 words, alongside a short biographical description not exceeding 100 words.


Paper proposals and descriptions should be emailed to medical.identities@history.ox.ac.uk by January 30, 2019.