Interdisciplinary Histories Conference, 13th & 14th February 2017

Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

The conference keynote speakers Dr Des Fitzgerald (Cardiff University) and Professor Felicity Callard (Durham University) spoke on “Power and Affect in Interdisciplinary Space”

The first Rethinking Sexology conference examined dynamics of interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration from a historical perspective. It asked what can be gained by exploring moments, sites and traditions of dialogue across disciplines, fields of knowledge and forms of expertise in the past.

Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

Chris Manias (History, KCL) spoke on Histories of Palaeontology: Researching and Communicating between Disciplines”

One particular area of interest of the conference was late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sexual science: Western European sexual scientists, including those with medical training, articulated an inclusive vision for sexual science that involved diverse fields like anthropology, biology, history, literature, psychology, sociology and zoology.

Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

Robbie Duschinsky (Primary Care Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge) gave a paper on “Reappraising Infant Disorganised Attachment and ‘Fear Without Solution’: A Conversation Between History, Sociology and Social Work”

The conference also aimed to move beyond sexual science to consider alternative perspectives on how boundaries between areas of knowledge and expertise have been constituted, crossed and contested across history and to understand shifting definitions of terms like ‘science’ or ‘discipline’. It offered an opportunity for dialogue between scholars situated within and across (or outside of) a variety of disciplines and fields.

Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

Sarah Bull (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge) and Will Abberley (English, University of Sussex) shared a panel on “Nature and the Production of Knowledge”

Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

Andreas Sommer (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge) spoke on “Sexology and the Occult: A Career in Taboos. The Case of Albert von Schrenck-Notzing”

At the conference, we considered questions about interdisciplinary working, including:

  • How has exchange across disciplines, fields and areas of knowledge changed and shifted across e.g. cultural, historical, linguistic and national borders? How does this relate to changing definitions and understandings of ‘science’?
  • What methodologies can we use to understand exchange and collaboration across disciplines and fields in the past and present?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of writing ‘disciplinary’ histories?
  • Can historical perspectives on exchange and dialogue in the past inform collaborative working practices today? How?
  • What can we learn about our own disciplinary mindsets and methodologies by studying their emergence and intersection with other disciplines and fields in the past

Interdisciplinary Histories Conference

Donna Drucker (Technische Universität Darmstadt) spoke on”Developing American Sexual Science in Early Twentieth-Century New York”

Download the full conference programme here. 

This was a Wellcome Trust-funded Conference, Hosted by the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter.

For more details please contact the organisers, Professor Kate Fisher and Dr Jana Funke.

Photos by TJ Zawadzki.

Global Perspective: Dialogues between West and East on History of Medicines

L0004700 Watercolour, Chinese doctor feeling the pulse of a patient. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images A doctor taking the pulse of a woman patient, seated at a table. Her wrist is supported on a small red bolster. The doctor touches the pulse only with his finger-tips, without looking at the woman. Watercolour by Zhou Pei Qun, ca. 1890. Watercolour 1890 By: Pei Qun ZhouPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Watercolour, Chinese doctor feeling the pulse of a patient, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images


Organised by the International Center for Studies of Chinese Civilization, Fudan with the Rethinking Sexology project, University of Exeter.

Date: 2nd – 3rd September 2016.

Location: International Center for Studies of Chinese Civilization, Fudan.

For full address click here.


Wood and glass pillow book, China.

Wood and glass mirror box with erotic images, 19th century, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

This workshop is divided in five main discussion topics:

     1, A Global Perspective: Rethinking of the medical history writing

     2, Disease and Health: Different Cognition between West and East

     3, Acupuncture in China ,America and Europe, the Past and Present.

     4, Use of the Same Drugs by Different Medical Traditions around the World

     5, Sexology, Gender and History of Medicine

Please see the Provisional Programme here.

For more details please contact the organizer Gao Xi, History Department, Fudan University: