Friday, May 16, 2014

Call for Papers: Bodies Beyond Borders: The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950, January 7-9 2015

This call for papers just in from my new friend Pieter Huistra, one of the many international attendees I had the pleasure to meet at last weekend's phenomenal Amsterdam Anatomy Weekend at the Museum Vrolik.

The conference will take place in Leuven, Belgium from January 7-9, 2015 with confirmed speakers including Sam Alberti, Sven Dupré, Rina Knoeff, Helen MacDonald, Anna Maerker, Chloé Pirson, Natasha Ruiz-Gómez and Michael Sappol.

The call for papers follow; abstracts of 300 words must be submitted by June 1, 2014 to pieter.huistra [at] You can find out more here.

Bodies Beyond Borders. The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950
Leuven, 7-9 January 2015

Bodies Beyond Borders is a scholarly conference on the circulation of anatomical knowledge that indicates the heighted interest in the history of anatomy in Leuven. This conference fits in with two current projects on the history of anatomy in Leuven. The first is a research project on Anatomy, scientific authority and the visualized body in medicine and culture (Belgium, 1780-1930), that is conducted in our research group, Cultural History since 1750. The project is supervised by Kaat Wils, and co-supervised by Raf de Bont, Jo Tollebeek and Geert Vanpaemel, and has two PhD fellows, Tinne Claes and Veronique Deblon and one postdoctoral fellow, Pieter Huistra. This research project takes as its object the history of anatomy in Belgium in the ‘long nineteenth century’.

Secondly, Leuven will celebrate a Vesalius year in 2014-2015, to commemorate the 500th birthday of Andreas Vesalius. The mainstay of the programme will be the exhibition Unravelling the body. The theatre of anatomy, of which Geert Vanpaemel will serve as curator. This exhibition studies Vesalius himself, but also his work influenced representations of the human body and the tradition of anatomical research. These themes will also be included in Bodies Beyond Borders, our conference that takes up the question: how does anatomical knowledge move from site to another? Whereas our research project focuses specifically on Belgium, the conference will have a broad geographical scope in its topics as well as its speakers.

Call for Papers

How does anatomical knowledge move from one site to another? Between 1750 and 1950 the study of anatomy underwent great changes, as a part of the development of scientific medicine, through public anatomies, as well as in the interplay between the two. How did these changes spread geographically? How did knowledge about newly discovered lesions travel from one hospital to another? What was the role of anatomical models in the spread of the public consciousness of syphilis, for example? Was the spread of this knowledge hindered by national borders, or did anatomical knowledge cross those borders easily? These questions are concerned with what James Secord terms ‘knowledge in transit’. To seek an answer to these questions, a conference focusing on the circulation of anatomical knowledge between 1750 and 1950 will be organized in Leuven from 7-9 January 2015. Confirmed speakers are Sam Alberti, Sven Dupré, Rina Knoeff, Helen MacDonald, Anna Maerker, Chloé Pirson, Natasha Ruiz-Gómez and Michael Sappol.

Knowledge does not move by itself – it has to be carried. To better understand how anatomical knowledge moves from place to place, we will seek to trace the trajectories of its bearers. Some of those bearers were tied very specifically to the discipline of anatomy: wax models, preserved bodies (or parts of them) or anatomical atlases, for example. These objects are polysemic in nature, tending to have different meanings in different contexts and for different audiences. It makes the question of how anatomical knowledge travelled all the more pertinent if, for example, wax models that went from a Florentine museum to a Viennese medical training institution underwent a shift in meaning en route. But bearers of knowledge less specifically tied to anatomy were equally important: articles, books and individual persons to name but a few examples.

For our conference we welcome contributions regarding the geographical movement of anatomical knowledge between 1750 and 1950. We are equally interested in ‘scientific’ and ‘public’ anatomy – as well as in exchanges between the two domains. Therefore, we encourage contributions about bearers of anatomical knowledge as wide-ranging as persons (scientists, students, freaks), objects (models, preparations, bodies or body parts), visual representations (films, atlases, wall maps) and practices (dissections, travelling exhibitions), as well as their (transnational and intranational) trajectories.

Paper proposals must be submitted by 1 June 2014.

Please send a 300-word abstract to pieter.huistra[at]

Notification of acceptance: early July, 2014.
Image: Enrique Simonet, "Anatomía del corazón; ¡Y tenía corazón!; La autopsia," 19th Century

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