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Devouring the Earth: How British Food Changed the World

Between 1750 and 1900, the British diet underwent significant change, becoming much richer in meat, wheat, and sugar. This talk explores a series of significant consequences of this dietary transition, including the transformation of agrarian ecologies across the globe, and the accelerated, human-driven evolution of cattle, pigs, wheat and sugar. At a national scale, this recognizably “British” diet, albeit one with regional peculiarities, provided the calorie flows necessary for the domestic labor force to power the industrial revolution. While calorie levels rose on the British mainland, there were also a growing list of dietary pathologies, from constipation, food allergy, diverticulitis and tooth decay to anorexia nervosa and obesity. Our contemporary food crises--including world hunger, the diabetes epidemic and the limits of human global carrying capacity--has a much deeper history.

Disease, People, and Environment: The Plague in China

Many of the biological organisms and processes linked to the spread of infectious diseases are especially influenced by fluctuations in climate variables, notably temperature, precipitation and humidity. Evidently, in its passage from one individual to another, a pathogen is dependent on a specific mode of transmission and a particular configuration of various external factors. Temperature and humidity are crucial with respect to its reproduction, survival and infectiousness.

Epidemics and Empires: The Case of the Caribbean (1620-1920) in World Historical Context

Presented by John McNeill (Georgetown University) at the Center for Historical Research, Dept. of History, The Ohio State University on September 30, 2011.

The Ohio State University Center for Historical Research in the Department of History provides a stimulating intellectual environment for studying important historical issues around the world. Each year the Center brings together scholars from various disciplines to examine issues of broad contemporary relevance in historical perspective.

Fever, Commerce and Diplomacy: Consuls, Commercial Agents and the Transformation of Warm Climate Medicine in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions

From colonial medical officers to WHO advisors to Doctors without Borders, border crossers who link medical cultures in disparate parts of the world have recently captured the attention of historians of disease control. By and large, however, those scholars continue to look to the late nineteenth and twentieth century, situating the emergence of border crossers in the rise of modern globalization. This paper challenges this outlook by introducing an overlooked actor from an earlier period: the consul.

From the History of Refugees to Refugee History

The plight of refugees has again become a dominant focus of public debate as it was in the aftermath of the two world wars. It seems to speak to the desperation of displaced people and the intransigent stance adopted by many governments. In reflecting on the stance and role of historians, this talk proposes a history of population displacement that is attentive to the circumstances, actions and trajectories of refugees in different times and places, and what it means for refugees to encounter government officials and aid agencies, and to interact with one another as well as with people who had not been displaced. In thinking about refugees as agents rather than as flotsam and jetsam, the talk considers how refugees have expressed themselves, including as historians of their own predicament.

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