Keynote Speakers

Mark Jackson:

Mark is Professor of the History of Medicine and Director of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter, UK.  Mark has published widely, and his recent research and writing has focused on the history of allergic diseases, such as asthma, hay fever and eczema in the modern world, and on the history of stress. He is currently writing a book on the history of the midlife crisis.  He has served as Senior Academic Adviser (Medical Humanities) to the Wellcome Trust and as Chair of the Wellcome Trust History of Medicine Funding Committee (2003-8) and the Research Resources Funding Committee (2008-13).  He is currently Chair of the History sub-panel for REF 2021, is a member of the WHO European Advisory Committee on Health Research, and chairs the WHO Euro Expert Group on the Cultural Contexts of Health.  In 2018, Mark was awarded the Royal Society Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal for his contributions to the history of science and medicine.

Keynote: Life begins at 40: the cultural and biological roots of the midlife crisis

In 1965, the Canadian-born psychoanalyst and social scientist Elliott Jaques introduced a term – the midlife crisis – that continues to structure Western experiences and expressions of love and loss in middle age.  During subsequent decades, the midlife crisis became a fashionable means of describing feelings of disillusionment with work, disenchantment with relationships, detachment from family responsibilities, and the growing fear of personal death that began to haunt those beyond the age of forty.  In addition to popular expositions of the midlife crisis, scholarly studies within the social and biological sciences also regarded midlife in similar terms: as a physical or psychological tipping point or crossroads in the life course, the moment at which people in the prime of life felt themselves to be at risk of sinking towards senescence and death.

Although the midlife crisis has often been dismissed as a myth or satirised in contemporary novels and films that tend to foreground its comic elements, the concept has persisted not only in stereotypical depictions of rebellion and infidelity at midlife, but also in research that has sought to explain why and how middle age presents particular social, physiological, and emotional challenges.  Exploring a rich range of historical sources, in this lecture I want to argue that the emergence of the midlife crisis – as concept and experience – during the middle decades of the twentieth century was not coincidental.  Rather it was the product of historically specific demographic changes, new biological accounts of ageing, and deepening anxieties – at least in the Western world – about economic decline, political instability, rising levels of divorce, and the impact of family breakdown on social cohesion.

‘Forty-Phobia’ (image) – Source: The Times, (28 April 1938), p. 19.

Christine Hallett:

Christine, formerly Professor of Nursing History, University of Manchester, UK and now Professor of History at the University of Huddersfield, is an internationally acclaimed historian of nursing. She is Chair of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, and President of the European Association for the History of Nursing. She is unusual in holding doctoral degrees in both nursing and history, and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society for the Arts. She has published extensively on nursing history, including five sole-authored and four edited books, 18 book chapters, and more than 40 peer reviewed journal articles. She is frequently invited to lecture by universities worldwide, to give public presentations, and to consult on museum exhibitions. Her particular expertise on nursing in the First World War has been widely recognised, and led to her role as Historical Advisor for the BBC’s First World War drama series and website.

Keynote: Between ivory tower and marketplace: the Nurses of Passchendaele project and the perils of public history

Driven by the tendency for universities to treat knowledge as a commodity, historians are exploring new ways to demonstrate the so-called ‘impact’ of their work.  But the drive for impact in a neoliberal economy is not the only stimulus to engage with communities.  Public history itself is not new.  It developed as part of a recognition that that the so-called ‘trickle-down’ model for the dissemination of historical knowledge via textbooks and the occasional popular book was largely ineffective.  Many historians are now taking their work well beyond the ‘ivory tower’, and the nature of public history has, itself, become a focus for debate.

The current drive for engagement can be viewed as the acceleration of a late-twentieth-century movement for the democratization of history.  The public history movement was promoted by academics who argued that its purpose should be to enable the emergence of a new, more critical form of citizenship.  Hence, current thinking emphasises the need for the co-creation of knowledge.  The pitfalls of such genuinely collaborative ventures are obvious: the historian is obliged to relinquish some level of control over the outcomes of the work, and must accept the risk that powerful partners might pursue unwanted agendas.

Christine Hallett’s paper will explore some of these issues in relation to her own, recent public engagement project: Nurses of Passchendaele.  Following an overview of the empirical research on which the project was based, including Hallett’s monographs, Containing Trauma (Manchester University Press, 2009), Veiled Warriors (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Nurse Writers of the Great War (Manchester University Press, 2016), she will evaluate the claim that the Nurses of Passchendaele project was a genuinely collaborative venture.  Her lecture will present some of its highlights.  It will also offer reflections on some of the difficulties encountered.  At times, engagement with powerful national organisations resulted in pressure to conform to a desired version of the past.  The lecture closes with a look at some of the quirkier and less anticipated responses to the work, which resulted from the involvement of three British schools and a folk music group.
Please note: For those of you in Auckland the week before the Conference Christine will be lecturing on: ‘Nurses of Passchendaele’, Monday 25th November, 6pm in the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, entrance via Grand Foyer from 5.15pm. More details to follow.
Naomi Rogers:

Naomi is Professor of the History of Medicine in the Section of the History of Medicine and the Program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University, USA. Her research interests are the history of twentieth-century medicine and public health in North America including policy, activism, alternative medicine, and gender and medicine; science and feminism; feminist health movements. Naomi is an Australian who went to America to undertake her PhD, and is a very prominent medical historian in the United States, delivering the prestigious Fielding H. Garrison Lecture at the American Association of the History of Medicine in 2017.

Keynote: Social Justice and the Politics of Change: American Health Activism, 1945-1980

Health activists in the United States during the decades after World War Two developed distinctive ways of thinking about medicine and social justice which helped to spark a national conversation about health care services, the training of providers, and, more broadly, the causes and consequences of health disparities. Frustrated by what they saw as the narrow dead-end of early Cold War health insurance debates, American activists – many from inside the health professions – argued that their demands were much less radical than they could have been. They were always aware of the non-medical protesters outside their schools and hospitals and were invigorated by demonstrations against racial and religious discrimination, the Vietnam War, inadequate welfare support, and toxic threats to the environment.
These activists, though disparate, shared a radical vision of American medicine. They fought to alter medical practices that demeaned and infantilized patients. They believed that America’s health care system could be transformed by training more para-professionals and giving them legitimate prestige and by changing the faces of medicine – who had the right to wear the white coat – in order to develop a new kind of provider-patient relationship based on equality and respect.

Derek Dow:

Derek is Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice, in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland. Derek has published significant and formative histories in New Zealand medical history, including accounts of the New Zealand Department of Health and of Government policy relating to Māori health. These histories continue to be widely cited. He is well known to the ANZSHM as the long-serving Editor of the Newsletter, which he keeps lively and informative. He is currently working on a study of the development of the medical profession in New Zealand, and on a history of the University of Auckland School of Medicine.

Keynote: Inert and blundering: one medical historian’s odyssey 1969-2019

Over the past 50 years I have morphed from neophyte undergraduate into hoar-frosted bearded superannuitant historian. During this time the range and volume of evidence available to historians have grown exponentially, as have the tools available to us to make sense of this expansion. Trends come and go but the underlying skills to gather and interpret evidence are largely unchanged. In this paper I will reflect on the evolution and revolution in the historian’s craft since the 1960s, informed by a number of projects I have undertaken. These include prosopographical studies of early nineteenth century Glasgow medical students and of New Zealand doctors from 1840-1920, commissioned public histories of medical institutions, and the online history compiled in 2018 to commemorate the Auckland medical school’s 50th anniversary.

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