Laughing at / with the Dead

I recently had the pleasure of attending the annual meeting of the American Association for the History of medicine in Baltimore. It’s a great conference, filled with friendly and interesting people doing what academics generally do at such events – talking, schmoozing, drinking, and so on. If you work on the history of health, disease,Continue reading “Laughing at / with the Dead”

History at Work and Play: Thoughts on the AA Archives Workshop

Points readers interested in the history of Alcoholics Anonymous will be interested to know that this weekend (22-25 Sept.) is the 15th Annual National AA Archives Workshop— a get-together dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of that fellowship at the local, regional, and national levels.  Points readers who are not interested in AA historyContinue reading “History at Work and Play: Thoughts on the AA Archives Workshop”

Reminder: Pub/Street/Meds is Going Fast

The window is closing fast for next month’s scintillating Alcohol and Drugs History Society Conference on The Pub, the Street, and the Medicine Cabinet, 24-26 June in Buffalo, New York.  By “window” in this instance we mostly mean “conference hotel special discount rates.”  Those bargain basement prices will be available to all and sundry startingContinue reading “Reminder: Pub/Street/Meds is Going Fast”

Historical Scholarship as a Subordinate Enterprise

I was recently speaking with a very prominent psychiatrist about the history and science of various mental illnesses, and he told something along the lines of “what historians can do to help is to explain how diseases came to be defined as they are; that way we can have a better idea of what weContinue reading “Historical Scholarship as a Subordinate Enterprise”

Work in Progress: Between Biological Reductionism and the Social Construction of Addiction

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Randolph Nesse about the evolutionary origins of addiction – Nesse is perhaps the leading expert on the evolutionary basis of disease and immunity, and in 1997 he wrote an influential article on drug use in evolutionary perspective. The conversation got me thinking about the relevance of contemporaryContinue reading “Work in Progress: Between Biological Reductionism and the Social Construction of Addiction”

On Moving Beyond “Context”

Perhaps it is because I teach in a medical school, rather than a traditional academic history department, but over the past two years I have become increasingly interested in thinking about how historical scholarship can directly contribute to solving current problems. When people discover where I teach they often ask me, in a somewhat quizzical way,Continue reading “On Moving Beyond “Context””

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