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Compound Remedies: Galenic Pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020) by Dr. Paula S. De Vos examines the equipment, books, and remedies of colonial Mexico City’s Herrera pharmacy—natural substances with known healing powers that formed part of the basis for modern-day healing traditions and home rem…
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In early modern Japan, upper status groups coveted pills and powders made of exotic foreign ingredients such as mummy and rhinoceros horn. By the early twentieth century, over-the-counter-patent medicines, and, more alarmingly, morphine, had become mass commodities, fueling debates over opiates in Japan's expanding imperial territories. The fall of…
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Is involuntary psychiatric treatment the solution to the intertwined crises of untreated mental illness, homelessness, and addiction? In recent years, politicians and advocates have sought to expand the use of conservatorships, a legal tool used to force someone deemed “gravely disabled,” or unable to meet their needs for food, clothing, or shelter…
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If you’ve ever worked with dementia patients before, you know how unique and bizarre the experience can be, and how little the stereotypes actually hold up to the experience. Even knowing about the diagnosis often does little to help us in caring for people, and many caregivers find themselves getting sucked into behavioral loops of their own. This…
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The Occasional Human Sacrifice: Medical Experimentation and the Price of Saying No (Norton, 2024) is an intellectual inquiry into the moral struggle that whistleblowers face, and why it is not the kind of struggle that most people imagine. Carl Elliott is a bioethicist at the University of Minnesota who was trained in medicine as well as philosophy…
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Each year in India more than two million people fall sick with tuberculosis (TB), an infectious, airborne, and potentially deadly lung disease. The country accounts for almost 30 percent of all TB cases worldwide and well above a third of global deaths from it. Because TB’s prevalence also indicates unfulfilled development promises, its control is …
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Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood (Cambridge University Press, 2020) a brilliant but shocking account of the criminalization of all aspects of reproduction, pregnancy, abortion, birth, and motherhood in the United States. In her extensively researched monograph, Michele Goodwin recounts the horrific contempora…
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Students in twelfth-century Paris held slanging matches, branding the English drunkards, the Germans madmen and the French as arrogant. On Crusade, army recruits from different ethnic backgrounds taunted each other’s military skills. Men producing ethnography in monasteries and at court drafted derogatory descriptions of peoples dwelling in territo…
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Dialysis is a medical miracle, a treatment that allows people with kidney failure to live when otherwise they would die. It also provides a captive customer for the dialysis industry, which values the steady revenues that come from critically required long-term care that is guaranteed by the government. Tom Mueller's six year deep dive into the dia…
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In a broken world, in which even God Himself is in a state of deep crisis, what is required in order to mend the rupture? How can one heal God and His world? Moreover, what might allow our actions to be effective? These questions stand at the heart of the Lurianic Kabbalah, the apex of the Safedian intellectual and religious renaissance of the sixt…
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Lucy Barnhouse of Arkansas State University talks with Jana Byars about her new book, Hospitals in Communities of the Late Medieval Rhineland: Houses of God, Places for the Sick, out 2023 with Amsterdam University Press. From the mid-twelfth century onwards, the development of European hospitals was shaped by their claim to the legal status of reli…
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Rustam Alexander's Gay Lives and 'Aversion Therapy' in Brezhnev's Russia, 1964-1982 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) examines the autobiographies and diaries of Soviet homosexual men who underwent psychotherapy during the period from 1970 to 1980 under the guidance of Yan Goland, a psychiatrist-sexopathologist from Gorky. The examination of these unique …
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Decisions to go to war are often framed in cost-benefit terms, and typically such assessments do not factor in longer term costs. However, recent dramatic improvements in American military medicine have had an unanticipated effect: saving more soldiers' lives has vastly increased long-term, downstream costs of war with profound consequences for glo…
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Dr Pierce Salguero sits down with Justin B. Stein, a specialist in modern Japanese religion and the preeminent historian of Reiki. We discuss Justin’s new book, Alternate Currents: Reiki’s Circulation in the Twentieth-Century North Pacific (U Hawaii Press, 2023), about the transnational origins of Reiki, and also get into his perspective as a both …
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After a storied career as a health policy expert, Stanford Medicine's Dr. Jay Bhattacharya's work became a political focal point during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he advocated against widespread lockdowns. He co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter signed by infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists which…
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If you're interested in memory, you'll find a lot in Memory Makes the Brain: The Biological Machinery That Uses Experiences To Shape Individual Brains (World Scientific, 2021), from cellular processes to unique and interesting perspectives on autism. Detailed descriptions of cellular processes involved in forming a memory. Connecting those cellular…
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Covering a fascinating period of population growth, high infant mortality and deep social inequality, rapid medical advances and pseudoscientific quackery, Confinement: The Hidden History of Maternal Bodies in Nineteenth-Century Britain (The History Press, 2023) by Dr. Jessica Cox is the untold history of pregnancy and childbirth in Victorian Brita…
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Dr. Susan Partovi first experienced poverty medicine volunteering at a dump site in Tijuana during high school. There, she recognized the need for all people to have access to quality medical care. Over the years, she has worked in various facilities around Los Angeles County, incorporating her renegade method of going the extra mile for her patien…
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As the U.S. population ages and as health care needs become more complex, demand for paid care workers in home and institutional settings has increased. This book draws attention to the reserve of immigrant labour that is called on to meet this need. Migrants Who Care: West Africans Working and Building Lives in U.S. Health Care (Rutgers University…
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Measurements, and their manipulation, have been underestimated as crucial historical forces motivating and guiding the way we think about disability. Using measurement technology as a lens, and examining in particular the measurement of hearing and breathing, Coreen McGuire's book Measuring Difference, Numbering Normal: Setting the Standards for Di…
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Most of us appreciate the importance of the immune system yet have very little knowledge about how it actually works. If you fall into this camp and are curious to learn more about this intricate system, Bobby Cherayil's book is an excellent resource. The Logic of Immunity: Deciphering an Enigma was published in January 2024 by John Hopkins Univers…
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Our stress response system is magnificent - it operates beneath our awareness, like an orchestra of organs playing a hidden symphony. When we are healthy, the orchestra plays effortlessly, but what happens when our bodies face chronic stress, and the music slips out of tune? The alarming rise of stress-related conditions, such as heart disease, dia…
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Advancing Medical Posthumanism Through Twenty-First Century American Poetry (Palgrave MacMillan, 2024) places contemporary poetics in dialogue with posthumanism and biomedicine in order to create a framework for advancing a posthuman-affirmative ethics within the culture of medical practice. This book makes a case for a posthumanist understanding o…
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Raj Patel, the renowned political economist and New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with the physician Rupa Marya to offer a radical new cure: the deep medicine of decolonization. Decolonizing heals what has been divided, reestablishing our relationships with the Earth and one another. Combining the latest scientific…
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In The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media (Duke UP. 2023), Bishnupriya Ghosh argues that media are central to understanding emergent relations between viruses, humans, and nonhuman life. Writing in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 global pandemics, Ghosh theorizes "epidemic media" to show how epidemics are mediated in images, numbers, an…
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