CSHM 2015 Conference Report

In Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, Conferences by Steve Palmer0 Comments

The Canadian Society for the History of Medicine met under fair to middling skies on the urban campus of Canada’s great bilingual University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa from 30 May-June 1.  This year’s conference was held jointly with the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing.  The overall quality of the conference papers was excellent, the organization impeccable, the facilities perfectly arranged for easy exchange, and the mood convivial to the maximum.  The conference was warmly presided over by organizers Marie-Claude Thifault and Isabelle Perreault (who is also the CSHM Treasurer), both of the Université d’Ottawa, and by out-going President James Moran (UPEI).

The Society elected a new president, Sasha Mullally (UNB), and a new Vice-President, Peter Twohig (St. Mary’s).  All other positions were filled with solid and dedicated scholars who were roundly endorsed by the membership.  New editors were appointed to direct the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History: Kenton Kroker of York University and Erika Dyck of the University of Saskatchewan.  For a profile of Dyck and her recent interview on CBC Radio’s The Current, click here: http://canuckhm.ca/erika-dyck-right-on-in-saskatchewan/

Some of the conference’s more memorable moments were preserved for posterity in the Canadian Treasury of Medical History. These include two reports on the impressive quality and range of the papers presented by graduate students.  The first features the Segall Prize for the best graduate student paper, which went to Jenna Healey (Yale) for “How Late is Too Late? Negotiating the Age Limit for Pregnancy in 20th-century America”: http://canuckhm.ca/best-of-the-conference-rest-ii-the-segall-prize-for-best-grad-student-paper/

The other report on graduate student culture checks in on the very first session of the conference, a sample of the work being done by grad students at the U of O’s Nursing History Research Unit: http://canuckhm.ca/the-conference-begins-suicides-par-intoxication-medicamenteuse-district-de-montreal/

There were two wonderful keynote talks.  You can read about the Hannah Lecture, delivered by Christine Hallett, “Le Petit Paradis des Blessés: Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front, 1915-1918”, here: http://canuckhm.ca/best-of-the-rest-of-the-cshmcahn-conference-i-halletts-hannah-lecture/

A report on the Paterson Lecture by Natalie Zemon Davis, “Physicians, Healers and their Remedies in Colonial Suriname”, featuring an original work of portraiture done the last time Professor Davis lectured at the University of Ottawa in 1979, can be accessed here: http://canuckhm.ca/best-of-the-rest-iii-natalie-zemon-davis-paterson-lecture-and-more-of-what-really-happens-at-the-cshm-conference/

The annual Champagne and Strawberries Book Launch, emceed this year by Casey Hurrell (Queen’s) was a huge success, with a wide range of new publications, websites and journal special issues, as you can appreciate by reading this report: http://canuckhm.ca/champagne-and-strawbs-to-celebrate-new-books-in-canuck-hm-and-hn-emcee-casey-hurrell/

A highlight of the conference was an impromptu and harmonious Saturday evening round-table on the future of collaboration in Canadian history of medicine, featuring Geoff Hudson (NOSM) and Isabelle Perreault (U of O). Participants and public agreed there was an urgent need for more work on native practitioners of karaoke healing who are working in a post-colonial context: http://canuckhm.ca/monday-evening-special-panel-the-future-of-collaboration-in-canadian-history-of-health-2/

For a sampling of some of the other papers presented, click here: http://canuckhm.ca/canadas-greatest-healer/

Kate Walker provided an idea of the conference themes and chronologies, using an established methodology, in her post-mortem blog post: http://canuckhm.ca/conference-reflections/

A couple of contentious efforts were made to reflect on the connection between the conference of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine and the larger multi-conference context of the Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences:

One light comic ditty, with a nod to Cole Porter, can be read here: http://canuckhm.ca/what-is-this-thing-called-congress/

The other, provoked by Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente’s unprovoked attack on Canadian social sciences and humanities scholars, caused a bit of a brouhaha: http://canuckhm.ca/a-response-to-margaret-wente-or-why-congress-is-good/

The 2015 edition of the CSHM was a great conference.  Everyone is looking forward to the next one, in 2016, at the University of Calgary, in the intriguing province of Alberta.

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