CFP: Histories of Medicine in the Indian Ocean


Call for papers (

Histories of Medicine in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean World Centre, Peterson Hall, McGill, 26-27th April 2013

The IOWC is looking for papers that address any aspect of medicine in the region of the Indian Ocean, including Northeast, East and South Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean islands, South, Southeast, and East Asia, in any historical period. The aim of the conference is to interrogate the concept of the Indian Ocean as a ?world? using the exchange of medical goods, texts, instruments and ideas as a lens through which to examine how far the region may be regarded as a cultural entity. As well as being an article of trade, medicine is associated with religious, spiritual, and cultural ideas about the body and its relation to the environment. These ideas both govern the acceptance, modification, or rejection of medicines and medical ideas and are altered by them. Medical exchanges can thus be used to provide a cultural perspective on historical events and trends such as the spread of Islam and other faiths, the movement of migrant and diaspora communities, free and enslaved, and the rise and fall of empires in the region. The conference being multidisciplinary, papers from geography, sociology, anthropology and area studies as well as the history of medicine and science are welcome.

Possible topics include but are by no means limited to:
– Circulation and translation of medical texts
– Transfer of medical techniques and healing practises
– Adoption and adaptations of medical theories and practises
– Spirit possession & modern medicine
– Humoral theory
– Theories of contagion
– Transplantation of medicinal plants
– Trade and marketing of plant or animal drugs
– Plantations/ mass production of medical substances
– Use of narcotics in medicine
– Marine materia medica
– Naval medicine
– Veterinary medicine
– Doctors & medical practitioners as agents of diplomacy or colonialism
– Trade or exchanges of medical instruments/ medicine containers
– Decoration and symbolism of medical instruments/ medicine containers
– Medical imagery/ illustrations
– Medical practises of migrant and diaspora communities
– The history of hospitals/ clinics/ dispensaries
– Medical missions
– Shrines as centres for healing
– International organisations focused on health care provision in the region
– Politics of healthcare


Papers should be in English or French. Each paper will be grouped according to theme. Individual authors will have a certain amount of time to present their papers, to be followed by a summary presentation by a discussant during sessions devoted to each theme, followed by general discussion.

A registration fee of Canadian $110 ($65 for students) will be charged. The fee for late registration is $130 ($75 for students).

Deadline for submission of abstracts is 14 January 2013. Deadline for payment of registration fees is 1 March 2012.

Abstracts should be submitted to the following address: [email protected]. Enquiries may be directed to [email protected].

Facilities for payment of registration, directions, and accommodation will be available on the conference website.