HomeTeaching to Treat: Medical Education in the Empires (18th-20th centuries)

HomeTeaching to Treat: Medical Education in the Empires (18th-20th centuries)

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Published on Tuesday, February 16, 2021


This online workshop aims to bring together early career researchers to share their research into the history of colonial medical education. While the application is open to all, the committee particularly encourages those focusing on the 18th-20th century British and French Empires. It will prioritise research projects based on archives in colonies or former colonies. The workshop will take the format of discussions of pre-circulated, short papers (drafts) prepared by all participants. We plan to publish a selection of workshop papers as a special issue in a peer-reviewed journal.


University of Oxford - 2-Day Online Workshop - 21 & 22 June 2021


To participate in the workshop, the confirmed participants will be asked to submit to all the other participants a draft version of their article in English based on their research by the end of May. The workshop will take the form of a discussion involving all participants to share constructive feedback on the pre-circulated drafts.

Numerous recent studies on the history of medicine in European empires have addressed the interactions between the colonisers and the colonial population in the field of health, race, diseases, epidemics, pharmacopoeias and remedies. With these themes in mind, this workshop focuses on institutions - special attention paid to colonial medical schools - that structured the medical body over time. This focus will allow us to gain a better understanding of the genesis of the contemporary medical profession and the role of empires in the process. In this perspective, we hope to approach medicine less as a set of care activities and more as an institutionalised construction of exclusive professional bodies, characterised in the contemporary period by strong intercontinental mobility and which defines the standards to be respected in order to belong to it.

We aim to invite case studies of as many colonies as possible within the time period under study to show the diverse colonial settings and the complexity of the imperial dynamics, which in turn will allow for comparative analyses. From the 18th century onwards, medical schools became the points of reference for medical training in the British and French empires. Escalating imperial competition, notably between Britain and France, generated intense circulation of medical practitioners tasked with caring for troops and local populations on almost all continents. The chronology of inter-imperial wars often crossed that of famine and epidemics, creating a set of conditions in which projects of institutions for medical training took shape in colonies. In peacetime, medical schools functioned as a training hub for colonial elites. Many of these projects established medical schools in former colonies that are active to this day. This workshop will try to map these institutions of medical training and to revisit their inception through the history of empires.

Possible topics may include:

  • The establishment of medical schools in colonies
  • Interactions between metropoles and colonies in medical education
  • Teaching personnel involved in medical education
  • Medical curricula
  • Structures and architecture of imperial medical schools
  • Accounts of student population
  • Comparative studies of medical education between colonies and/or empires

Submission guidelines

Applications for the workshop should be sent in English, and should include the title, 300-word abstract, and institutional affiliation. They should be sent to hohee.cho@st-hughs.ox.ac.uk and martin.robert@wolfson.ox.ac.uk

no later than 8 March 2021.


  • Hohee Cho is a DPhil candidate in History at St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford. Her research concerns international medical programmes in the mid-20th century South Pacific focusing on the British empire. She is interested in jointly-operated medical institutions such as schools, hospitals, medical corps and health services. Through the research, she hopes to highlight the significance of indigenous health in promoting inter-imperial, inter-colonial and international cooperation in the Pacific region. 
  • Martin Robert is Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the History of Medicine at the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (OCHSMT), and Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His research analyses the establishment of British medical schools in Canada and India at the turn of the 19th century. It thus aims to assess what it meant to become a physician in the British Empire at the time, and to determine the role of empires in the professionalisation of contemporary medicine.

OCHSMT profile


  • Oxford, Britain


  • Monday, March 08, 2021


  • medical education, medical school, medical training, medicine, empire, 18th century, 19th century, British Empire, French Empire


  • Martin Robert
    courriel : martin [dot] robert [at] wolfson [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk
  • Hohee Cho
    courriel : hohee [dot] cho [at] st-hughs [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Martin Robert
    courriel : martin [dot] robert [at] wolfson [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Teaching to Treat: Medical Education in the Empires (18th-20th centuries) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/161c

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