The Body Divided: Human Beings and Human 'Material' in Modern Medical History, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Body Divided

Human Beings and Human 'Material' in Modern Medical History, 1st Edition

By Sally Wilde

Edited by Sarah Ferber


264 pages

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Paperback: 9781138246829
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9780754668343
pub: 2012-01-28
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pub: 2016-03-23
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Bodies and body parts of the dead have long been considered valuable material for use in medical science. Over time and in different places, they have been dissected, autopsied, investigated, harvested for research and therapeutic purposes, collected to turn into museum and other specimens, and then displayed, disposed of, and exchanged. This book examines the history of such activities, from the early nineteenth century through to the present, as they took place in hospitals, universities, workhouses, asylums and museums in England, Australia and elsewhere. Through a series of case studies, the volume reveals the changing scientific, economic and emotional value of corpses and their contested place in medical science.


'… an absorbing study of the issues and attitudes surrounding medical uses of the human body… often disturbing or challenging, and invariably fascinating.' Historical Records of Australian Science 'This thought-provoking collection lives up to the promise of its title. The body is, divided, literally, into its constituent parts for medical purposes. We are divided on how to preserve its integrity for human beings while harvesting its material for, well, other human beings. We are conscious, in the modern world, of the need to reaffirm equally the dignity of all bodies, and we are equally conscious of how firmly inequality is embodied in past historical practices. This collection has excellent notes and bibliography for each article, making it a valuable resource for scholars. It will be of interest to any readers who dwell within, own, use and analyse bodies.' Social History of Medicine ’…the collection will be of interest to analysts of the material culture of medicine, and to scholars who aim to develop historically grounded perspectives on the ethics and politics of modern medicine.’ Reviews in Australian Studies ’…this is a collection of interesting and thought-provoking reads.’ ISIS

Table of Contents

Contents: The body divided in time and place: an introductory essay, Sarah Ferber and Sally Wilde; A body buried is a body wasted: the spoils of human dissection, Helen MacDonald; Cadavers and the social dimension of dissection, Ross L. Jones; Dissection, Anatomy Acts, and the appropriation of bodies in 19th-century Australia: 'the government's brains' and the benevolent asylum, Susan K. Martin; Bodies of evidence: dissecting madness in colonial Victoria (Australia), Dolly MacKinnon; A judicious collector: Edward Charles Stirling and the procurement of Aboriginal bodily remains in South Australia, c.1880-1912, Paul Turnbull; The leprosy-affected body as a commodity: autonomy and compensation, Jo Robertson; Gifts, commodities and the demand for organ transplants, Sally Wilde; Science fiction, cultural knowledge and rationality: how stem cell researchers talk about reproductive cloning, Nicola J. Marks; Inventing the healthy body: the use of popular medical disclosures in public anatomical exhibitions, Elizabeth Stephens; Epilogue, Leo Brown; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Sarah Ferber is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Sally Wilde is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia.

About the Series

The History of Medicine in Context

An interest in medicine is one of the constants that re-occurs throughout history. From the earliest times, man has sought ways to combat the myriad of diseases and ailments that afflict the human body, resulting in a number of evolving and often competing philosophies and practices whose repercussions spread far beyond the strictly medical sphere.

For more than a decade The History of Medicine in Context series has provided a unique platform for the publication of research pertaining to the study of medicine from broad social, cultural, political, religious and intellectual perspectives. Offering cutting-edge scholarship on a range of medical subjects that cross chronological, geographical and disciplinary boundaries, the series consistently challenges received views about medical history and shows how medicine has had a much more pronounced effect on western society than is often acknowledged. As medical knowledge progresses, throwing up new challenges and moral dilemmas, The History of Medicine in Context series offers the opportunity to evaluate the shifting role and practice of medicine from the long perspective, not only providing a better understanding of the past, but often an intriguing perspective on the present.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / History