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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.

312 pages | 6-3/4 x 10


History of Science


Table of Contents

Translating Medicine, ca. 800–1900: Articulations and Disarticulations
Tara Alberts, Sietske Fransen, and Elaine Leong

Translation and the Making of a Medical Archive: The Case of the Islamic Translation Movement
Ahmed Ragab

Unveiling Nature: Liu Zhi’s Translation of Arabo-Persian Physiology in Early Modern China
Dror Weil

New World Drugs and the Archive of Practice: Translating Nicolás Monardes in Early Modern Europe
Alisha Rankin

When the Tallamys Met John French: Translating, Printing, and Reading The Art of Distillation
Elaine Leong

Vernacular Languages and Invisible Labor in Ṭibb
Shireen Hamza

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: Pyric Technologies and African Pipes in the Early Modern World
Benjamin Breen

Translating the Inner Landscape: Anatomical Bricolage in Early Modern Japan
Daniel Trambaiolo

Casting Blood Circulations: Translatability and Braiding Sciences in Colonial Bengal
Projit Bihari Mukharji

Female Authority in Translation: Medieval Catalan Texts on Women’s Health
Montserrat Cabré

[Un]Muffled Histories: Translating Bodily Practices in the Early Modern Caribbean
Pablo F. Gómez

Translating Surgery and Alchemy between Seventeenth-Century Europe and Siam
Tara Alberts

“Use Me as Your Test!”: Patients, Practitioners, and the Commensurability of Virtue
Hansun Hsiung

Notes on Contributors



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