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Historical Aspects of Unconventional Medicine
edited by Robert Jutte, Motzi Eklof & Marie C. Nelson

Subject: History of Medicine
Publisher: EAHMH Publications (UK)

Edition Our Price inc. p&p Status
hardback, xii+288pp, ISBN 095365222X, 2001 UK only: £34.95 in stock

Historical Aspects of Unconventional Medicine cover

    An excellent alternative to the Anglo-American literature on the subject
    Roger Cooter, Medical History, April 2003

Other volumes in the EAHMH Network Series:

This collection of essays by leading scholars re-evaluates how and why boundaries formed between regular and unconventional medicine. In particular, it explores the rise to power of a unified medical profession which subscribed primarily to a biomedical approach, and the consequent marginalisation of a wide range of medical practices.

The papers on quackery, for example, demonstrate the diversity of the pre-modern health care system, and the boundaries that were drawn to regulate the medical marketplace even before the nineteenth century. Other essays show that the 'other' (the 'quack', the homoeopath, the seller of patent medicine, the mesmerist, etc.) was made visible through political and professional control. Some of the papers in this collection provide strikingly fresh insights by combining exhaustive archival research with intimate familiarity with current medical sociology. Several studies also reflect the greater attention medical historians have paid since the 1980s to local or specific contexts, thus representing a definite shift in concern away from long-term developments to focus on events as a means of elucidating those changes.

Taken together, the essays in this collection illustrate that cultural studies are very much compatible with the methodologies of traditional medical history, history of science, cultural studies and social history. Most importantly, the contributors employ a variety of theoretical approaches to medico-historical problems, but avoid assuming the doctrinaire positions of a so-called partisan or apologetic medical history.


  • Robert Jütte, "Alternative Medicine and Medico-Historical Semantics"
  • Claudine Herzlich, "Patients, Practitioners, Social Scientists and the Multiple Logics of Caring and Healing"
  • Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra, "A Sense of Gender: Different Histories of Illness and Healing Alternatives"
  • Martin Dinges, "The Contribution of the Comparative Approach to the History of Homoeopathy"
  • Gerda Bonderup, "Danish Society and Folk Healers 1780-1825"
  • Sofia Ling, "Physicians, Quacks and the Field of Medicine: a Case Study of Quackery in Nineteenth-Century Sweden"
  • Motzi Eklöf, "Doctor or Quack: Legal and Lexical Definitions in Twentieth-Century Sweden"
  • Riitta Oittinen, "Health, Horror and Dreams for Sale: Patent Medicine and Quackery in Prewar Finland"
  • Michael Stolberg, "Alternative Medicine, Irregular Healers, and the Medical Market in Nineteenth-Century Bavaria"
  • Phillip Nicholls, "The Social Construction and Organisation of Medical Marginality: the Case of Homoeopathy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Britain"
  • Sigrídur Svana Pétursdóttir, "Homoeopathy in Iceland"
  • Elisabeth Hsu, "Figuratively Speaking of 'Danger of Death' in Chinese Pulse Diagnostics"
  • Gry Sagli, "Chinese Medical Concepts in Biomedical Culture: the Case of Acupuncture in Norway"
  • Barbara Wolf-Braun, "'The higher order of the natural laws and the wrong of world of hysterical mediums': Medicine and the Occult 'Fringe' at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century in Germany"
  • Consolidated Bibliography
  • Index


Gerda Bonderup is Reader at the Department of History at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. Her work includes Cholera Morbro'r og Danmark (Aarhus, 1994) and she has published papers on a variety of topics related to social, cultural and medical history.

Martin Dinges works as Professor and Archivist at the Institute of the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation, Stuttgart, Germany. His research interests lie in early modern social and medical history and in historical anthropology. He edited and co-authored Neue Wege in der Seuchengeschichte (Stuttgart, 1995) (with Thomas Schlich); Homöopathie. Patienten, Heilkundige und Institutionen. Von den Anfängen bis heute (Heidelberg, 1996); Weltgeschichte der Homöopathie, Länder-Schulen-Heilkundige (Munich, 1996); Medizinkritische Bewegungen im Deutschen Reich (ca. 1870-ca. 1933) (Stuttgart, 1996); Hausväter, Priester, Kastraten. Zur Konstruktion von Männlichkeit in Spätmittelalter und Früher Neuzeit (Göttingen, 1998).

Motzi Eklöf is Researcher at The Tema Institute, Linköping University and has recently published her thesis on the identity, ideals and ideology of the Swedish medical profession from 1890 to 1960. During the latter half of the 1980s she was an investigator for the Committee for Alternative Medicine of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, and has worked in different contexts with issues concerning alternative medicine and quackery both in modern and historical perspectives.

Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra is Professor of Social and Cultural History at the University of Amsterdam. She has published on the granting of asylum in the Dutch Republic, deviance and tolerance (16th-20th centuries), witchcraft and cultures of misfortune (16th-20th centuries), the reception of homoeopathy in the Netherlands (19th-20th centuries), and on women and alternative health care in the Netherlands (20th century). She has recently edited in English, with Hilary Marland and Hans de Waardt, Illness and Healing Alternatives in Western Europe (London, 1997) and, with Roy Porter, Cultures of Psychiatry and Mental Health Care in Postwar Britain and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, 1998).

Claudine Herzlich is Directeur de recherches émérite au CNRS and Directeur d'études à l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Her fields of interest are sociology of health and illness and sociology of professions. She was a member of the Collège de Direction Scientifique de l'INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research), 1982-91 and 1994-96, and chair of the Société Française de Sociologie, 1992-95. She is a member of the Editorial Board of Cahiers internationaux de Sociologie. Her books include Santé et maladie, analyse d'une représentation sociale (Paris, 1969; English translation: Health and Illness, a Social-Psychological analysis, London, 1973); Malades d'hier, malades d'aujourd'hui, de la mort collective au devoir de guérison (Paris, 1984; English translation: Illness and Self in Society, Baltimore, 1987; other translations in German, Italian, Japanese); with P. Adam, Sociologie de la maladie et de la médecine (Paris, 1994; Italian translation to be published).

Elisabeth Hsu is Senior Research Fellow of the Swiss National Foundation and Visiting Scholar at the Faculty of Oriental Studies. She is currently working on a research project on the history of Chinese medicine.

Robert Jütte, born in 1954, is currently Director of the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Stuttgart. From 1983 to 1989 he was Associate Professor at the Department of General History of the University of Haifa, Israel. A social and medical historian and the author or editor of over 20 books, he has published extensively on German and European urban, cultural, medical and social history. His most recent book in German is Geschichte der Alternativen Medizin (Munich, 1996). He is the editor of the journal Medizin, Gesellschaft und Geschichte. He is a member of the Scientific Board of the German Medical Association and Secretary of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (since 1995) as well as vice-president of the German Society for Jewish Studies (since 1999).

Sofia Ling (BA in History) is a PhD student at the Department of History at Uppsala University, Sweden. She is currently working on her dissertation on the concept of quackery within the medical field in Sweden during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Phillip A. Nicholls, born 1950, graduated from Nottingham University in 1977 with first class honours in Sociology. He gained a Postgraduate Certificate of Education in 1978, and his PhD in 1984. He joined Staffordshire University in 1979, and is now Principal Lecturer and Head of the Department of Sociology, teaching comparative social structure, sociological theory and the sociology of health and medicine. Since 1978 he has conducted research on complementary therapies, and especially homoeopathy. More recently, he has been working in the area of disability. The main results of his work on the history of homoeopathy are contained in Homoeopathy and the Medical Profession (Croom Helm, 1988).

Riitta Oittinen is Lecturer at the Department of Economic and Social History, Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She is completing a PhD thesis on definitions and the market for quackery in Finland at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her publications include articles on the history of the body, especially beauty, ageing and cleanliness. Gendered practices of work is her other main research topic. She has participated in the design of several museum exhibitions in these areas of research, including 'Memory' at the Helsinki City Museum, which received the European Museum of the Year Award Special Commendation in 1995.

Sigrídur Svana Pétursdóttir has a BA in History from the University of Iceland and wrote a final thesis on homoeopathy in nineteenth-century Iceland. She is currently continuing her research in that field, completing an MA degree from the University of Iceland in 2000.

Gry Sagli graduated from the University of Oslo with an MA in Chinese Studies with the thesis An introduction to traditional Chinese medicine: the Yixue sanzijing (The Three-character Classic of Medicine), and she is now a PhD student at the same university. Her doctoral thesis is about the reception of Chinese acupuncture conceptions and practices in Norway. She has also trained professionally as a physiotherapist.

Michael Stolberg is Lecturer in Medical History at the Technical University in Munich and currently on a Heisenberg Research Fellowship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Previous publications have focused on epidemics, public health, environmental hygiene and health care (official, alternative and 'folk') in the nineteenth century. His most recent book is Geschichte der Homöopathie in Bayern 1800-1914). He is currently involved in research on illness experience in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Barbara Wolf-Braun is Research Officer at the Institute for the History of Medicine at the University of Bonn, Germany. A graduate in Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Austria, she has conducted research on spiritual healing and the history of hypnotism in Germany with various publications on these topics. She is currently completing research about the history of parapsychology in Germany from 1870 to 1932.