CFP: “Social Histories of Disease, Medicine, and Healing in the Modern ME/NA”

Call for Chapters for inclusion in an edited volume on

“Social Histories of Disease, Medicine, and Healingin the Modern Middle East & North Africa”

What can the study of disease, medicine, healing, and public health in the Middle East and North Africa since 1750 reveal about the region’s history?

Editors: Stephanie Anne Boyle, New York City College of Technology (CUNY) & Christopher S. Rose, independent scholar, Austin, TX. 

Deadline: June 1, 2021

Temporal and Geographic Coverage: 

  • Modern” here refers to the period from the mid-18th century to the present.
  • Middle East & North Africa” encompasses the Arab World (including the Maghreb), Iran, Israel and its antecedents, and Turkey and its antecedents. 
  • We are also open to the inclusion of other geographic contexts that are related to the ME/NA, such as the Ottoman Aegean & Cyprus, Egyptian and Anglo-Egyptian Equatoriana, Omani East Africa, etc. Please contact us to discuss.

We are soliciting abstracts for inclusion in an edited volume about the social histories of medicine, disease, and health/healing practices in the modern Middle East. This volume will illustrate how the study of medicine, disease, and healing reveal new aspects of the region’s history during the era prior to and during European imperialism, and during the era of 20th century state-building and decolonization. This is a period whose histories have traditionally described social and political history and are, therefore, primarily focused on elites and notables. 

In recent decades there have been several excellent monographs and volumes on the history of medicine, health, disease, and healing, which have demonstrated the possibilities of using this history as a lens for social history, particularly when it comes to providing glimpses into the lives of rural peasants and the urban poor; the importance of public health as legitimation and justification for state-building projects; as a tool both of imperialism and against it; and in the formation of collective identities at all strata.

We seek to bring historians of medicine and science, social historians, cultural historians, and political historians whose work touches on public health, disease, and medicine into conversation with one another. We also want to bring historians who work on different parts of the Middle East and North Africa together to identify transnational trends and highlight issues that span the borders of modern nation-states. 

Submissions can, for example:

  • Illustrate the means of transmission and reception of “European” pathologic anatomical medicine into the MENA region; especially those that complicate the binary “modern European medicine vs traditional folk / Islamic-Galenic / Prophetic medicine” narrative by demonstrating interplay / antagonism / syncretism.
  • Provide new perspectives on historical events in the region that have been gleaned through the study of medicine and healing practices;
  • Add to our understanding of international efforts to deal with the spread of pandemics and epidemics by illustrating how parties in the MENA region responded;
  • Help flush out our understanding of major pandemic and epidemic events during the era by illustrating their geographic progression through and impact on parts of the MENA region;
  • Elucidate the realities and perceptions of religious festivals (especially local/sub-regional, i.e., other than the Hajj) as potential vectors for disease transmission.
  • Explore the intersections between medicine and migration (i.e., forced migration to seek medical practices, or the role that migration has played in spreading communicable disease)
  • Illuminate the intersections of war and disease, and/or famine and disease.
  • Examine the politics of sex work and public health. 

This is by no means a comprehensive listing of all possible topics. Please contact the editors if you have questions. 

Submissions from Ph.D. candidates (ABD) are welcome, as are submissions from scholars outside the United States (especially those working in the MENA itself).

Abstracts of 500-750 words (not including notes/bibliography) and a short (~100 word) biography should be sent as PDF, Word document (doc or docx), or Google doc to by June 1, 2021. Communication will be in English.

Authors will be notified of their status by June 15, 2021, with first-round submission of the chapter expected by September 1, 2021. Chapters should be between 6,500-8,000 words in length (including abstract and notes). 

We are committed to a quick timeline. A major university press in the U.S. has expressed interest in reviewing the project for publication.

Contact the editors with any questions at:

Crowdsourced Syllabus on the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920

In the same vein as the wildly successful Humanities Coronavirus Syllabus, I’ve started a crowdsourced Syllabus on the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920.

It’s an annotated bibliography that aims to bring together books, journal and magazine articles, websites, documentaries, etc., about the experiences of the global Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920 (popularly known as the ‘Spanish flu’) from fields in the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and medicine in one place.

Anyone can add to it – just click on the link and get started! At the moment, edits must be done using the “add comment” function.

Links to full text PDFs would be ideal; please supply URLs or DOIs where available, especially for articles or other pieces from regional publications that may be difficult for others to locate.

I’m also looking for someone to serve as a co-editor of the hard sciences / medicine section, because I’m not as familiar with that area and those who work on it.

I’m hoping this experiment will yield some nice results! (By the way, if you haven’t checked out the Humanities Coronavirus Syllabus, you should. It’s an excellent example of the collaboration that’s taking place in scholarship right now!)

Back in the saddle

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here; once I finished the Grad School Survival Guide I kind of ran out of steam (especially since I sat on the job market not moving for quite a while — writing a “how-to” guide on how to be a Ph.D. collecting unemployment, as I did in the spring of 2021, just didn’t seem all that enticing).

So, very quick life update: at the last moment–literally, I had made up my mind to pursue opportunities outside of academia if this didn’t work out–I found a full time position at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio (about 75 minutes away, which, in all honesty, isn’t a bad commute for the Greater Austin area).

Also, it kind of looks like Hogwarts.

I didn’t know OLLU was the kind of community I was looking for, but it turns out to be a pretty good fit for me: first off, I don’t have to move (the idea of living apart appealed to neither of us), but, secondly, as OLLU is a teaching institution, I can continue research and writing at my pace, but not with the pressure that comes with the tenure track at an R1–which was not something I particularly wanted to deal with.

My next article, which will be out in the spring in the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, sat in revision for 16 months (admittedly, I didn’t look at it for 15 of 16 of those months), but that’s how things are with COVID. I don’t need someone breathing down my neck about it.

Plus, people are nice at OLLU. We all say hi in the morning. And, even though the school is going through an enrollment crunch and budget issues like everywhere else, everyone seems pretty determined to make the most of it with what we have.

Plus, as the world history half of the history program, I have the opportunity to reimagine course offerings in line with the school’s identity as a majority Mexican-American campus as that aspect of the curriculum continues to be emphasized. I really am very lucky, in so many ways.

I was particularly fortunate because about six weeks after being offered the job, I found out that I’d been awarded a Fulbright US scholar grant … and OLLU let me take half of my first year off to do it. (Again, I am very lucky).

Which is why I find myself this morning in Cairo, drinking a cup of mint tea and typing furiously on my computer in my apartment that does not have a view of the Nile (it faces the wrong way and also it’s not actually on the Nile).

I’m back in the saddle, working on my book again. I’ve put out a couple of articles based on material from the dissertation, and the heavy critique on both is that they don’t have very many sources in Arabic, or from the Egyptian point of view. This is both fair and unsurprising; in 2016 when I was working on my dissertation I was unable to travel to Egypt, so I had to do nearly all of my work in the British National Archives.

I’d been intending for a while to try to get back here and acquire some of the sources I would need to revise the manuscript, and now I have the funding to do so. Life in Cairo has its difficulties (I stumbled into a tourist scam yesterday with eyes wide open and my pride is still a bit wounded), but it’s manageable.

In all honesty this isn’t the first post I’ve made about this research trip, but some of the posts will, by necessity, be password protected and written for a select group of friends, family, and colleagues until I leave Egypt. (And, remember, my book is about World War I, so, no, I don’t know anything about the mummies they just found. Stop asking me about mummies.)

So, it’s time to dust this thing off and see where it goes. Come along with me on this adventure!

History of Medicine in the MENA Zotero Group

(crossposted from

Note: I’ve been active as my professional alter-ego on Humanities Commons, where a colleague and I have set up a group for scholars interested in the history of medicine in the Middle East and North Africa, which is what I do professionally.

Are you a Zotero user? (and if not, why not?)

We’ve set up a shared Zotero group–join and contribute your entries, and let’s create a shared bibliography detailing the history of medicine in the Middle East and North Africa!

Read on for description and instructions.

Continue reading “History of Medicine in the MENA Zotero Group”