Seminar Programme 2016/17

The Centre runs a regular seminar series, jointly with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.  The venue is the Reading Room of the College Library, The talks begin at 5.30.  Tea, coffee and biscuits are available from 5.00.  All welcome.

Winter/Spring Programme 2017






15 November 2016 - Professor Richard Mindham, University of Leeds

Building for the mentally ill; from Bethlem to the community

The talk will discuss the evolution in the design of hospitals for the mentally ill from the monasteries, the involvement of public bodies, the influence of changing attitudes to mental illness, the emergence of diverse architectural solutions and the over-riding influence of economic factors.

Professor Mindham was Nuffield Professor of Psychiatry in Leeds, 1977-2000, and Emeritus Professor since.  As a general psychiatrist, he had a special interest in the psychiatric complications of physical disease.  He is a member of the Yorkshire Medical and Dental History Society and the History of Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

6 December 2016 - Dr Cheryl McGeachan, University of Glasgow

“Do you have a frog to guide you?”: Exploring the ‘asylum’ spaces of R.D. Laing

Using the example of Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, this presentation argues that alternative conceptualisations of therapeutic ‘asylum’ spaces (real and material, imagined and envisioned) matter in the exploration of the deinstitutionalisation process. Concentrating on Laing’s time spent at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations and his part in the development of the therapeutic communities of the Philadelphia Association (PA) during the 1960s, this talk demonstrates the importance of investigating alternative spaces of ‘asylum’ in the deinstitutionalised landscape, from their very imagining to their physical foundations.

Dr McGeachan is Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. Her research explores the historical and cultural geographies of mental (ill)health and asylum spaces. She is currently researching the historical geographies of Art Extraordinary and Scottish art therapy.

21 February 2017 - Dr Salim Al-Gailani University of Cambridge

Vitamins on Trial: Folic Acid as a Technology of Reproduction and Public Health

Dr Al-Gailani is a teaching and research associate at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, where he is a contributor to the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award on ‘Generation to Reproduction’. His research focuses on the history of pregnancy, childbirth and public health in Britain from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Since the early-1990s, governments and health organizations around the world have sought to encourage women to make sure they get enough folic acid before and during pregnancy. The expert consensus is that women with diets deficient in this vitamin are at increased risk of bearing a child with relatively common 'neural tube defects', such as spina bifida. While health policy makers continue fiercely to debate the risks and benefits of the mandatory national fortification of grain products with folic acid, at least for those (typically affluent and educated) women for whom conception is planned, the daily ritual of swallowing a vitamin supplement has become a routine part of the experience of pregnancy. This paper introduces my broader project on history of folic acid as a technology of pregnancy, with its implications beyond reproduction for the globalization of biomedical knowledge, the management of risk and the role of consumer activism in shaping public health policy.

21 March 2017 - Dr Iain Hutchison University of Glasgow

Philanthropy, Patriotism and Paediatric Nursing: Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children through five objects

This paper will begin with an overview of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children’s development over the one and a half centuries since its inception. It will then take five objects or artefacts as focal points for a discussion on the roles played by charity, emotion(al blackmail?), patriotism and conflict, and by often under-valued nursing care during the hospital’s pre-NHS era.

The recently published history of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Child Health in Scotland, published at £24.95, will be available on the night at a special offer price of £20.

25 April 2017 - Dr Claas Kirchhelle University of Oxford - TBC

Regulation and Resistance - a history of non-human antibiotic use in the US and UK (1949-2013)

This presentation will examine the long history of antibiotic use in Western food production. It will ask why antibiotics were introduced to food production, track the development of agricultural antibiotic use on both sides of the Atlantic, and examine why regulations designed to curb bacterial resistance developed differently in the US and Europe.

 Claas Kirchhelle is a Research Associate at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine and the University of Oxford’s Martin School. He is also a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College. His work addresses the history of antibiotic use, resistance, and regulation on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2016, his dissertation Pyrrhic Progress was awarded the University of Oxford’s annual Dev Family Prize for the best thesis in the field of history of medicine.