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Osiris, Volume 37

Translating Medicine across Premodern Worlds

Highlights the importance of translation for the global exchange of medical theories, practices, and materials in the premodern period.

This volume of Osiris turns the analytical lens of translation onto medical knowledge and practices across the premodern world. Understandings of the human body, and of diseases and their cures, were influenced by a range of religious, cultural, environmental, and intellectual factors. As a result, complex systems of translation emerged as people crossed linguistic and territorial boundaries to share not only theories and concepts, but also materials, such as drugs, amulets, and surgical tools. The studies here reveal how instances of translation helped to shape and, in some cases, reimagine these ideas and objects to fit within local frameworks of medical belief.

Translating Medicine across Premodern Worlds features case studies located in geographically and temporally diverse contexts, including ninth-century Baghdad, sixteenth-century Seville, seventeenth-century Cartagena, and nineteenth-century Bengal. Throughout, the contributors explore common themes and divergent experiences associated with a variety of historical endeavors to “translate” knowledge about health and the body across languages, practices, and media. By deconstructing traditional narratives and de-emphasizing well-worn dichotomies, this volume ultimately offers a fresh and innovative approach to histories of knowledge.

364 pages | 6-3/4 x 10


History of Science


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