Saturday 15 April 2023
11.00 - 13.00
Environments, Geographies and Health
Maria Heidegger :
Wind, Senses, and Psyche in Nineteenth-Century Tyrol
In early psychiatry, the doctrine of nerve stimuli and their effects on the entire organism was decisive. Long before foehn disease was described as a medical phenomenon and attempts were made to theoretically account for the effects of wind due to oxygen fluctuations, air electricity, so called foreign fumes or ... (Show more)
In early psychiatry, the doctrine of nerve stimuli and their effects on the entire organism was decisive. Long before foehn disease was described as a medical phenomenon and attempts were made to theoretically account for the effects of wind due to oxygen fluctuations, air electricity, so called foreign fumes or pressure fluctuations, early modern medical treatises described the effects of weather, moon phases, seasons, and the wind on the nervous system. Most authors agreed that health related issues connected to wind and weather, were a local and temporary phenomenon and, above all, an individualized problem as with religious melancholy or the homesickness nostalgia, which also experienced its golden age as a psychiatric phenomenon in the 19th century. But while the latter afflicted people away from home, the foehn plagued those who became locals in foehn regions.
Starting with 19th century diagnostic statements and protocol entries in historical patient records in the archives of Tyrolean psychiatry, I will raise associative questions against the background of the cultural texture of 19th century Tyrol, in which nature on one hand and religion on the other offered the surface for multifaceted projections. Southern wind and religious practices not only shaped life during the seasons but simultaneously turned to objects of natural science and psychiatry. My contribution to future psychiatric-historical research on foehn is, at this point, a sprawling footnote to a larger research project dealing with patients and their passions in 19th century catholic Tyrol. But what did storms have to do with the passions of patients in psychiatric wards? To be clear: I do not intend to compound and simplify complex phenomena like weather and religion. Rather, in the sense of the micro-historical practice of contextualizing, I am pursuing the question of how physicians could come up with the idea of attributing depressed states of mind, (religious) anxiety, and anger to the wind as an individual local factor, and what effects were, and in some cases still are, attributed to weather phenomena in contemporary perceptions of pain and psychological states. And beyond that, I ask what place sensory experiences hold in an environmental history of 19th century Innsbruck where the south foehn announced itself through foehn moods, where storm swept through the alleys, and finally collapsed. I aim to interweave wind and psychiatry and embed them into a local sensory history. To that purpose, I draw on a wide range of source material: psychiatric files, newspaper articles, pictures, and early South Foehn Studies, published around 1900. (Show less)
John Matchim :
“Complete to the Last Man”: Medical Case Records, the Hospital Ship ‘Strathcona III,’ and the 1970 Mass X-ray Survey for Tuberculosis in Labrador
In the summer of 1970 the International Grenfell Association (IGA), a semi-autonomous health care provider that operated until 1981 in northern Newfoundland and Labrador, eastern Canada, conducted a mass x-ray survey for tuberculosis in northern Labrador. Rather than addressing the social causes of tuberculosis – forced population relocation, poorly constructed ... (Show more)
In the summer of 1970 the International Grenfell Association (IGA), a semi-autonomous health care provider that operated until 1981 in northern Newfoundland and Labrador, eastern Canada, conducted a mass x-ray survey for tuberculosis in northern Labrador. Rather than addressing the social causes of tuberculosis – forced population relocation, poorly constructed housing, health care inequities – the IGA adopted a technological response, building a new hospital ship, the 'Strathcona III,' that could follow Innu and Inuit communities as they moved to summer fishing and hunting stations. Consequently, the mass surveys undertaken by the 'Strathcona III' prioritized the highest possible x-ray ‘score’ – “complete to the last man” – over individual and community well being. The use of ships and buses to conduct x-ray surveys in rural-remote regions was also tried in Sweden, Greenland and Alaska, as well as the Canadian Arctic. This talk will situate the IGA’s surveys in a circumpolar context.
Research on the 1970 survey is supported by the medical case records of the 'Strathcona III.' These case books, and the patient records they contain, are distinct from conventional hospital case charts of the period, which present a daily record of the patient’s condition. Hospital charts were (and still are) composed by and for teams of clinicians, sometimes including students, and were designed to facilitate interdisciplinary communication. Instead, the patient records compiled aboard the 'Strathcona III' are sparse, with patient details – name, residence (community), diagnosis, treatment, treatment outcomes, and (sometimes) notes – contained within a single line of the case book. Despite their brevity, these unique records – obtained with permission from both provincial and regional health authorities – provide insights into the livelihoods and experiences of the people x-rayed. How these records are used, and what they tell us about both patients and clinicians, will also feature in this discussion. (Show less)
Josep-Maria Ramon-Muñoz, Ramon Ramon-Muñoz :
Exploring Nutritional and Health Inequality in Late Nineteenth-Century Catalonia
Did inequality increase in nineteenth-century Southern Europe? Simon Kuznets (1955, 1963) predicted a rise in income inequality during the early stages of modern economic growth and a fall afterward. This is confirmed for Britain during the century and a half after 1750 when income inequality increased during the years of ... (Show more)
Did inequality increase in nineteenth-century Southern Europe? Simon Kuznets (1955, 1963) predicted a rise in income inequality during the early stages of modern economic growth and a fall afterward. This is confirmed for Britain during the century and a half after 1750 when income inequality increased during the years of the Industrial Revolution and then declined in the second half of the nineteenth century. In Spain, income inequality evolution also fits Kuznets inverted U hypothesis over the long run. Prados de la Escosura’s (2008) estimates show that income inequality experienced an upward trend during the second half of the nineteenth century and up to World War I, even though there were short-term downward oscillations in some particular periods.
Was nutritional and health inequality following the same pattern as income inequality? Whereas the available aggregated data for 19th-century Catalonia, suggest the opposite, results are still provisional and based on a limited number of localities. Indeed, a shortcoming of this debate is that the existing evidence is not comprehensive enough to draw definite conclusions. Another limitation is that conclusions at country-level and regional-level generally mask important differences at lower administrative levels, such as counties and localities. This paper aims at partly filling this latter gap by using a unique dataset for late nineteenth-century Catalonia. Our analysis is based on the use of height male data obtained from military records and it originally consists of almost 20,000 individual registers that cover the whole territory of Catalonia.
The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 sets the stage for further discussion by providing an overview of trends in the biological standard of living and height inequality in nineteenth-century Catalonia. Section 3 briefly discusses data, sources, and methodology. The dataset has been designed to provide evidence on height inequality at district, county and municipal level. Section 4 shows evidence of height inequality across territories in late-nineteenth-century Catalonia. Preliminary results suggest that inequality might greatly differ across districts, counties and municipalities. For example, the most unequal Catalan district yields a coefficient of variation 1.5 higher than the less unequal district. We also observe that height inequality appears to be higher among young males living in towns and cities with more than 20.000 inhabitants. Precisely, section 5 aims at testing the role of population size on inequality, by controlling for a series potential confounding factors such as literacy rate, environmental conditions, provision of medical services, and food access on early-life health and nutrition inequality. In particular, we aim at using a cross-section econometric analysis in which height inequality is regressed on a number of covariates. The last section provides the conclusions, which are still very preliminary. At present, we can only hypothesize that bivariate correlations at district level suggest that lower population densities, higher literacy rates, better environmental conditions – as measured by crude death rates – and a higher provision of medical services – as measured by the number of doctors per 1,000 inhabitants – are associated with lower levels of nutrition and health inequality at the district level. (Show less)
Carlos Tabernero :
The Trouble with Wilderness, Natural History Television, and the Construction of the Environment in 1970s Spain
In 1996, William Cronon (“The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature”, Environmental History 1/1 (1996): 7-28) memorably argued that present-day notions of wilderness are historically linked to the rise of urban-industrial cultures. From a combination of 18th-century romantic considerations of the sublime and 19th-century frontier ventures, ... (Show more)
In 1996, William Cronon (“The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature”, Environmental History 1/1 (1996): 7-28) memorably argued that present-day notions of wilderness are historically linked to the rise of urban-industrial cultures. From a combination of 18th-century romantic considerations of the sublime and 19th-century frontier ventures, nature usually works as a contrasting backdrop for human endeavors within defining dichotomous oppositions between the wild and civilization. As a result, it has become an object of concern for scientific scrutiny, technological taming, political-economic management, socio-cultural commodification and, in the end, all-round consumption. It is not surprising for such a powerful tenet to be ubiquitous in media outputs, and it is essential to explore how and to what extent it has thus become a compelling political tool, useful for propaganda and policy strategies often linked to discourses about the improvement of collective welfare conditions.
Here, I will offer a historical reading of the acclaimed TV series El Hombre y la Tierra (Man and the Earth, 1974-1981), produced and directed by Felix Rodríguez de la Fuente (1928-1980), a pioneering and highly influential naturalist, activist and natural history author and broadcaster in the convoluted socio-political scene of the late Franco’s dictatorship and the changeover to the democratic administration. I will examine how, in such a noticeably changing context regarding politics, science, media, and the perception of the environment, he drew on nature’s narrative potentials for identity-driven values, expectations, and fears in relation to conceptualizations of the natural heritage and the environment, by blending his particular narratives about wildlife with the depiction of scientific and media practices in order to: (a) create an efficient feedback loop to engage audiences in naturalist-like practices in their everyday-life endeavors; and (b) address, not without criticism, but often contradictorily, the establishment’s concerns and discourses regarding the long-sought and promised modernization of Spain. (Show less)