CfP: Environment and Health in History

The interaction between health and the environment is a central theme to both environmental and medical history. The importance of the interaction has been implicitly acknowledged, and sometimes explicitly explored, in, for instance, the histories of hospitals, sanatoriums and other medical institutions, drugs and medication, the relationships between chemicals and other pollutants, ecosystems and human health, food and nutrition. Historians of disease have inspected the role of the environment (animals, plants, climate) in giving rise, facilitating and/or controlling epidemics, as well as the changing conceptions of the relationship between health and the environment. The intricate and dynamic interplay between the environment and health is a burgeoning field of research in environmental history and environmental humanities. A host of complex subfields such as environmental health, gender and social vulnerability have been integrated into their studies. In environmental philosophy, vital values like human and ecosystem health, symbiotic interactions and biodiversity have been seen as important basic values for the common good of humans and nature.

The two-day workshop, which will be hold at the University of Oulu, Finland, 3-4 November 2016, seeks to explore the environment, health, and their points of contact in historical contexts. We invite individual papers, sessions and posters on any theme, topic, or period related to the history of the environment or medicine and health, and especially welcome papers exploring the intersection of the two themes. Presenters with background in environmental and medical humanities, medicine or environmental sciences, and environmental philosophy and philosophy of values are also welcome, providing there is a historical perspective in their presentations. Topics to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • healing or recreational environments
  • dangerous or toxic environments
  • (the concept of) environmental disease
  • disease and environmental change
  • disabling environments
  • waste and light and noise pollution
  • food and nutrition
  • architecture, housing and health
  • history of medical thought and practice
  • history of environmental thought
  • occupational health
  • the impact of fossil fuels on the environment and health
  • health and other vital values
  • aesthetics of nature and human wellbeing
  • mental health and experience of nature
  • diseases as environmental risks

The keynote speakers are:

  • Professor Teemu Ryymin, University of Bergen (Norway)
  • Associate Professor Dolly Jørgensen, Luleå University of Technology (Sweden)

Please email a max. 300-word abstract and a short CV by 19 June 2016 to the workshop organisers: heini.hakosalo [at] oulu.fi or esa.ruuskanen [at] oulu.fi. Successful applicants will be notified by 14 August 2016. Registered participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. The conference is free of charge.

Information on the conference will be made available on the home page of the History Department at the University of Oulu. The workshop is organised by the research groups Limits of Adjustment: History of Medicine and Health and Manipulating Nature: Case Studies in Environmental History, Science and Philosophy