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Anatomical politics and urban transformation in Vienna, 1848–1945

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Vienna around 1900 is generally imagined as home to a leisurely café culture and a lively art scene, and as a polyglot time bomb of class and ethnic conflict. Historians of medicine describe the Austrian capital as a leading educational centre, offering students unparalleled access to the bodies of patients, living and dead. How and why should we try to put these two views together? Following historians who are increasingly taking cities seriously as settings that mould the production of scientific knowledge, I treat the practice of anatomy as informed, not just by international struggles over disciplinary priorities, but also by local politics, society and geography. I hope to show how such an approach benefits both urban history and history of science. I am studying the hundred years between the revolution of 1848 and the end of Nazi rule, but the talk will focus on three important years in the history of the city – 1848, 1897 and 1927 – to explore the relations between the disciplinary politics of anatomy and urban transformation.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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