Grant Success!

The Centre is pleased to announce that Dr Claire Jones, our deputy director, has been awarded a prestigious “Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard – Health of the Public 2040” grant, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust. The scheme funds innovative cross-disciplinary projects in the health social sciences and medical humanities with the aim of identifying and solving some of the main health challenges the UK population will face by 2040.

Given the growing oral health inequalities in Britain, Claire’s project ‘Oral Health Inequalities, Oral Hygiene Cultures in England, 1870-1970,’ is extremely timely and aims to inform future dental health policy and practice. The award will fund a post for a research assistant, a series of public engagement activities with the British Dental Association and its Museum and an interdisciplinary academic conference.

Congratulations to Claire for such an excellent achievement!


 

 

Fully-funded AHRC PhD studentship Available from October 2017

“False Teeth for the Masses”: Artificial Teeth as Technologies, Prostheses and Commodities in Britain, 1848-1948

The Centre for the History of Medicine, Ethics and Medical Humanities at the University of Kent in collaboration with the Science Museum invites applications for a fully-funded three-year PhD studentship on artificial teeth in Britain, 1848-1948. The studentship award has been made by the Science Museums & Archives Consortium under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. The project, due to begin in October 2017, will be supervised by Dr Claire L. Jones at the University of Kent and Dr Oisín Wall at the Science Museum.

Project Information

Artificial teeth have long been important aids for the toothless, but from the mid-nineteenth century, these items became popular consumer items. Enabled by the increasing use of anaesthesia and the professionalization of dentistry, the number of companies producing false teeth from new, cheaper and easier to work materials rapidly expanded; a huge variety of artificial teeth and dentures became available in a market that eventually came to be dominated by the standardised sets made available through the NHS from 1948.

Drawing on the artificial teeth and dental collections at the Science Museum, this project seeks to examine the transformation in the consumption and use of artificial teeth and dentures in Britain between 1848 and 1948. The working questions facing a PhD student are:

  1. What were the respective roles of manufacturers, dentists (professional and non-professional), retailers and the health and beauty industry in shaping this transformation?
  2. What were the main design features of artificial teeth and dentures during this period, and how and why did they appeal to patients/users/consumers?
  3. What was the relationship between supply and demand for these technologies?
  4. How did social conventions and variables (age, class, gender, geography etc.) affect patient/user/consumer choice for artificial teeth?
  5. How might research into artificial teeth be communicated to public audiences?

Is this for you?

Candidates should have, or expect to attain, a good degree and should meet AHRC eligibility criteria:

http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/documents/termsconditionstraininggrants-pdf/

To apply for the scholarship, you must:

  • Hold (or expect to achieve in 2017) a Masters Degree with Merit or Distinction;
  • Hold an undergraduate degree with First-Class or Upper Second-Class Honours in relevant fields or subjects;
  • Be available to commence your academic studies in the UK at the beginning of October 2017

How to apply

Applications should include:

  • a curriculum vitae (no more than 2 sides of A4);
  • a sample of writing (3,000 words max);
  • a covering letter including a 500-word statement detailing how you plan to engage with the above proposal;
  • names and contact details of two academic references

For more details on the award, see: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/skills/training/

Contact us

For further details, or to informally discuss the studentship, please contact Dr Claire L. Jones.

Please send applications to c.l.jones-26@kent.ac.uk by 1st May 2017. Interviews will be held in May 2017.

Jobs.ac.uk link

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AXL296/phd-studentship-false-teeth-for-the-masses-artificial-teeth-as-technologies-prostheses-and-commodities-in-britain-1848-1948/


Barbershop Music: Literary Stereotype or Social Practice?

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies & The Centre for the History of Medicine, Ethics and Medical Humanities are happy to welcome Margaret Pelling (Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford) to present the lecture ‘Barbershop Music: Literary Stereotype or Social Practice?’ on Thursday 17th February 2017. All are welcome, please feel free to join us!

Margaret Pelling is a Senior Research Associate at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine in Oxford. Her earlier research was concerned with the history of public health in 19th-century Britain, and in particular the epidemiological ideas of figures such as William Budd, John Snow, William Farr and John Simon. Her research now focuses primarily on English history between 1500 and 1700, focusing on the less-regarded lower orders of medical practitioners, from barbers and barber surgeons to nurses and ‘old women’, but also on the health experience of different groups such as children, apprentices, men without women, and the elderly, and aspects of shared experience such as diet and urbanisation. Her work is also concerned with iconography, the gender- and status-related problems experienced by male practitioners, the links between medicine and politics, and the relationship between the public and the private. She is currently planning to take forward work on barbers, with particular interest in their ubiquity, their role in self-representation and cosmetic improvement, and their functions in literature and culture, as well as the importance to males of all periods of the hair and the beard.


 

Human Experimentation at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

 


oberheuser_during_sentencing

By Kate Docking

A report on the fourth post-war Ravensbrück Concentration Camp trial, written by Deputy Judge Advocate Halse in 1948, stated that medical experiments were performed at the camp ‘in the most brutal manner by doctors who were apparently stationed there for the purpose of experimenting on human guinea pigs.’ These human experiments occurred at Ravensbrück from August 1942 onwards. In total, 74 women were subject to sulphonamide drug and bone transplantation experiments, which took place without their consent. Lily Undun, who was an inmate at Ravensbrück, recalled that if the women refused to be experimented on, they were ‘shut into bunkers, and later the operations were performed by force.’ The initial order for the experiments to be conducted came from Himmler, who was head of the SS. National Socialist medical personnel stipulated that the experiments were performed in order to discover whether sulphonamide was an effective treatment for battle wounds. Foreign bodies such as wood or glass were thus inserted into artificial injuries in order to induce infection, and sulphonamide was used to treat the wounds. However, there was no real scientific reason behind the operations. The experiments were performed by some local doctors, who were known as the ‘Hohenlychen group’ as they came from a local hospital named Hohenlychen, which was located near Ravensbrück. Dr Herta Oberheuser was part of this group, and she was responsible for the post-operative care of those who had undergone experimental operations.

Sources from the seven different Ravensbrück trials and the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial reveal that Oberheuser treated patients extremely callously. As Keith Mant of the Royal Medical Army Corps noted, her post-operative care was ‘little more than sadistic.’ This is evidenced in the witness testimonies from the victims of the medical experiments. For example, Stefania Lotocka recalled that Oberheuser refused to give victims water. Stanislawa Mlodkowska Bielawska also added that when water was given, it was mixed with vinegar. This was clearly an unnecessary and cruel action performed by Oberheuser. Further, Oberheuser did not take sufficient care of the wounds that were induced by the experiments. Izabela Rek stipulated that ‘Oberheuser at first promised to dress my wounds, and, smiling, went out of the ward and we saw no more of her that day.’ Although Jadwiga Dzido described the care of Oberheuser as ‘not bad’, this sort of testimony is not typical. For instance, another victim stated that ‘Oberheuser told us herself that she could give nothing to alleviate our pains…’ The doctor deliberately refused to give the patients morphine, despite their screams of pain. Five of the women died as a result of the experiments, and six were later executed.

After the war, Oberheuser was tried at Nuremberg with ‘special responsibility and participation’ in the medical crimes at Ravensbrück. She was sentenced to twenty years in prison, but allowances were made for the time she already had served whilst in custody, and her sentence was reduced to ten years. However, she was in fact released in 1952. She then practised as a medical doctor in Germany. This led to outrage from the British Medical Association; they believed that her return to the medical profession was an affront to the ‘honour, morals and high ideals of the medical practice.’ Her medical licence was, however, later revoked by the Court of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Oberheuser died in a nursing home in Germany in 1978.

The thirty-five women who survived the medical experiments and the terrible conditions at Ravensbrück suffered life-long pain and disabilities. In spite of medical treatment in America, Jadwiga Dzido was permanently disabled. In addition to the bone and sulphonamide experiments, sterilisation experiments were also carried out at Ravensbrück. It is important that more details are known about the perpetrators and processes of these human experiments, in order to do justice to the victims who suffered extensively.

Kate Docking graduated from the University of Kent in 2016. She is currently studying for an MPhil in Modern European History at the University of Cambridge. Her current research project examines the representation of Nazi female perpetrators in British post-war trials and newspapers. She hopes to complete a PhD at the University of Kent on female doctors and nurses during the Third Reich.

Photo: Defendant Herta Oberheuser stands up to receive her sentencing at the Doctor’s Trial, Nuremberg 20th August 1947. Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Photograph #41017, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

History Repeated?

The events of 2016 will no doubt go down in history. On Wednesday 16 November, the School of History will be hosting a roundtable discussion putting the events of 2016 into a broader historical context.

Academics from the School will discuss the legacies of European revolutions, the impact of the Great Depression, and the rise of Nazism and Stalinism, through to the constitutional crises of the twenty-first century. What do these events tell us about the strength and weaknesses of democratic politics and moral values? Why do ideologies of hate and division seem to thrive in times of economic crises? Can a historical approach help us to develop a response to contemporary events?

All are welcome to explore these ideas in this discussion, and to join academics in the School to consider these issues over a glass of wine and snacks.

For more information, please contact either Dr Mark Hurst (M.R.L.Hurst@kent.ac.uk) or Professor Ulf Schmidt (U.I.Schmidt@kent.ac.uk).


history%20repeated%20poster

Paul Nash and the Landscape of War

By Chloe Trainor

“No pen or drawing can convey this country . . . Evil and the incarnate fiend alone can be master of this war, and no glimmer of God’s hand is seen anywhere. Sunset and sunrise are blasphemous, they are mockeries to man . . . the black dying trees ooze and sweat and the shells never cease . . . I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls.”

So wrote Paul Nash in a letter from the front to his wife Margaret, where he was working as an official war artist. Initially serving in a combatant role, Nash was wounded in Ypres in 1917, and was returned home to Britain. However, he requested to return to the front as an artist, where he assumed the responsibility of documenting within his paintings the horrors he observed. In claiming that the message of his work was ‘feeble’ and ‘inarticulate’, Nash was not reflecting upon the limitations of his skill as an artist; rather, his words revealed his own inability to properly comprehend the scale and intensity of trauma and suffering he had both observed, and experienced. Nash’s work signalled a new approach to documenting war in art; it was no longer heroic, and in pieces such as We are Making a New World (1918), Nash’s condemnation of war is observed in the ironic optimism of the title juxtaposed against the reality of his barren, wasted landscape. His work was potent and honest in its brutal expression of war, and testament to his enduring legacy as an artist is evidenced in the Tate Britain’s most recent exhibition of his work.

The subject matter of Nash’s art from this period reveal a man struggling to come to terms with the unimaginable horror he has witnessed. Nash tried to give expression to the unutterable, overwhelming pain and mental exhaustion which ravished the minds of so many, packaged in  medicalised terms like ‘shell shock’ and ‘war neurosis’, which failed to do justice to the experience of those who suffered. Traditionally a landscape artist, people were rarely the subject of Nash’s work, and where they do feature  they are often faceless, remote characters -ghost-like, in fact, as Andrew Graham-Dixon observes in his BBC4 documentary British Art at War: Bomberg, Sickert and Nash. Their ghostly appearance not only alludes to the war dead, but to the war broken, and in his decision to depict featureless, expressionless faces in paintings like The Menin Road (1919), I think Nash observes the impossibility of ever properly being able to convey in painting the faces of men who were overcome by feelings of fear, anger, hopelessness, and despair. Instead, the landscape of war is made to speak of their experience; the dislocation from a familiar way of life is confirmed in the desolation of their surroundings. In We are Making a New World the sky is bloodied and brooding, trees stand like fractured, broken stumps, and the earth itself is pock-marked and oozing, littered with craters left by shells. Whilst people are often not present in the work of Paul Nash, human suffering nearly always is.


The Menin Road (Art.IWM ART 2242) image: A devastated battlefield pocked with rain-filled shell-holes, flooded trenches and shattered trees lit by unearthly beams of light from an apocalyptic sky. Two figures pick their way along a tree-lined road, the road punctuated by shell-holes and lined by tree stumps. The foreground is filled with concrete blocks, barbed wire and corrugated iron, while columns of mud from artillery fire. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20087
The Menin Road (Art.IWM ART 2242) image: A devastated battlefield pocked with rain-filled shell-holes, flooded trenches and shattered trees lit by unearthly beams of light from an apocalyptic sky. Two figures pick their way along a tree-lined road, the road punctuated by shell-holes and lined by tree stumps. The foreground is filled with concrete blocks, barbed wire and corrugated iron, while columns of mud from artillery fire rise up in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20087

We are Making a New World (Art.IWM ART 1146) image: The view over a desolate landscape with shattered trees, the earth a mass of shell holes. The sun hangs high in the sky, beams of light shining down through heavy, earth-coloured clouds. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20070
We are Making a New World (Art.IWM ART 1146) image: The view over a desolate landscape with shattered trees, the earth a mass of shell holes. The sun hangs high in the sky, beams of light shining down through heavy, earth-coloured clouds. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20070

The Mule Track (Art.IWM ART 1153) image: The view across a battlefield undergoing heavy bombardment. The shattered landscape is disected by an angular duckboard path, along which a mule train is travelling, their small figues just visible in the distance. The animals rear and panic at a nearby explosion as the water from a flooded trench shoots up from the surface. In the sky there are large clouds of yellow and grey coloured smoke, with rubble flying high into the air in the foreground. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20078
The Mule Track (Art.IWM ART 1153) image: The view across a battlefield undergoing heavy bombardment. The shattered landscape is disected by an angular duckboard path, along which a mule train is travelling, their small figues just visible in the distance. The animals rear and panic at a nearby explosion as the water from a flooded trench shoots up from the surface. In the sky there are large clouds of yellow and grey coloured smoke, with rubble flying high into the air in the foreground. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20078

A Howitzer Firing (Art.IWM ART 1152) image: A scene with four British artillerymen firing a Howitzer gun. They stand beneath a canopy of camoflage netting. To the right a blast of light erupts from the muzzle of the gun, and the men on the left shield their faces from the brightness. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20077
A Howitzer Firing (Art.IWM ART 1152) image: A scene with four British artillerymen firing a Howitzer gun. They stand beneath a canopy of camoflage netting. To the right a blast of light erupts from the muzzle of the gun, and the men on the left shield their faces from the brightness. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20077

The Ypres Salient at Night (Art.IWM ART 1145) image: A night scene showing three soldiers on the fire step of a trench surprised by a brilliant star shell lighting up the view over the battlefield. On the left there is a flooded shell-hole, beyond which stand three other soldiers, overlooked by a woodland of tree stumps. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20069
The Ypres Salient at Night (Art.IWM ART 1145) image: A night scene showing three soldiers on the fire step of a trench surprised by a brilliant star shell lighting up the view over the battlefield. On the left there is a flooded shell-hole, beyond which stand three other soldiers, overlooked by a woodland of tree stumps. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20069

 

“Testing in the East”: An Episode in Cold War Bioethics


east-berlin

By Jonathan D. Moreno and Ulf Schmidt

In 2013 the influential German magazine Der Spiegel published an expose about clinical trials conducted by Western drug companies in East Germany during the Cold War. The magazine reported that at least 50,000 people had been test subjects for around 900 studies done by manufacturers that included leading companies from Switzerland, the United States, and West Germany. Fifty hospitals were sites of the research, including the prestigious Charite in East Berlin. The principle motivationfor the East Germans was money: they desperately needed hard currency for their failing medical system. For their part the companies appreciated the far greater efficiency of recruitment in the East, and paid the East Germans up to 800,000 West German marks per study.

The agency responsible for setting up these contracts? The notorious Stasi, the East German secret police force that included hundreds of thousands of paid agents and hundreds of thousands of more informants.

Der Spiegel’s series about the drug trials contained language and themes familiar to many landmark bioethics cases. The revelations were described as a scandal that used the oppressed East Germans as human guinea pigs, including deaths and injuries that had not been properly reported, the indiscriminate use of low-birthweight infants and depressed patients, inadequate informed consent, powerful drug companies and physicians largely eager to cooperate in spite of the occasional protest. Complete with interviews with former test subjects and regretful doctors, the study had all the elements of a classical bioethics case study that could take its place along with the U.S. Public Health Service’s Tuskegee syphilis study; the Guatemala sexually transmissible disease experiments; and some of the well-documented human radiation, biological, and chemical warfare experiments in the U.S. and the U.K. The magazine’s series concluded on a hopeful note that justice would be served when the distinguished German medical historian, Volker Hess, reviews the study archives.

Hess and two co-authors recently concluded their exhaustive review, published in German as Testen im Osten or “Testing in the East.” They concluded that, far from the scandal that the press anticipated, the East German trials were conducted largely within acceptable standards of medical ethics, especially by the conventions of the day. The authors do allow that consent procedures might not have been as thorough as in the West and in some cases there are serious questions about placebo controls and the adequacy of comparative treatment arms, but the practices were not dramatically different from those in West Germany at the time, they say.

Several other groups of historians and ethicists in Germany have also examined the material and published their results. Yet this dramatic episode has received virtually no attention in the bioethics literature, in spite of the fact that it raises compelling questions about the functioning of medical ethics standards and practices in an authoritarian system. With the glaring and extreme exceptions of the Nazi concentration camp experiments and the abuses of Soviet psychiatry, these are questions that are largely absent from the literature. Medical ethics in Central and Eastern Europe during the socialist period is a matter of near total ignorance among scholars.

In the years ahead other scholars will want to weigh in on the conclusions of Hess and others. But one lesson that can already be drawn is that expectations about medical ethics in authoritarian regimes should be critically received. More investigation needs to be conducted about these seemingly contrarian results. Usual explanations don’t seem to be available. For example, although East Germany was not a member of the World Medical Association and therefore not philosophically committed to its Declaration of Helsinki, they do not appear to have violated that international agreement. And although Western firms had good reason to want to conduct trials that were in line with Helsinki requirements in order to ensure that their intellectual property would be protected, they often seem to have breached those requirements in other parts of the world. And yet in East Germany they seem to have complied with those requirements. Why was this the case?

Understanding the unique conditions of medical ethics in East Germany and the other socialist states in that period will require incorporating expertise from cultural history, law, and the social sciences, as well as dogged archival work. Challenging though it is, this often troubled region presents an exceptional opportunity to assess the development, interpretation, and application of ethical theories, standards, and practices under circumstances that were quite different from those anywhere else in the world, and to obtain an illuminating comparison with our own place and time.

Jonathan D. Moreno is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Hastings Center Fellow. Ulf Schmidt is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent. The authors gratefully acknowledge that some of the work described in this piece was supported by a seed award from the Wellcome Trust. This article has been reposted from The Hastings Centre blog with permission. 

Photo: East Berlin customs police stopping a car on the Charlottenburger Chaussee with a tire-puncturing heavy barbed chain, 1962.