Bodies Beyond Borders. The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950

KU Leuven, in cooperation with University of Antwerp and Ghent University
07.01.2015 - 09.01.2015
Pieter Huistra

Bodies Beyond Borders. The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950
7-9 January 2015, Leuven, Belgium

How does anatomical knowledge move from one site to another? That is the question the conference Bodies Beyond Borders. The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950 seeks to answer. As any form of knowledge, anatomical knowledge does not move by itself – it needs a bearer. These bearers could be anatomical models in popular museums spreading public consciousness about syphilis for example, medical students bringing knowledge of newly discovered lesions from one hospital to another, or anatomical atlases, preserved bodies (or parts of them), books, drawings and many more. The trajectories of these bearers and their shifting meanings in different places is what Bodies Beyond Borders seeks to trace.

The conference will consist of eight key note lectures by leading scholars in the history of anatomy and over twenty paper presentations in parallel sessions covering anatomy in all its forms, functions and environments: from anatomy in the fairground over the colonial hospital to the metropolitan salon; from tactile experience of the anatomical specimen over the use of anatomical models to the significance of death masks. We are very proud to announce as our key note speakers: Sam Alberti, Sven Dupré, Rina Knoeff, Helen MacDonald, Anna Maerker, Chloé Pirson, Natasha Ruiz-Gómez and Michael Sappol. Furthermore, Andrew Cunningham, will deliver a public lecture in Museum M in Leuven. At the museum the exhibition ‘Vesalius. Imaging the body’ will be on display at that time – as part of the Vesalius year in Leuven.

For the full program and registration, check the website of Bodies Beyond Borders:

Bodies Beyond Borders is an initiative from the KU Leuven, in cooperation with University of Antwerp and Ghent University.


Bodies Beyond Borders. The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950

Wednesday 7 January 2015

11:00-11:10: Welcome
11:10-11:25: Pieter Huistra – Bodies Beyond Borders. An introduction
11:25-12:30: Sven Dupré (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin) – Itineraries of materials, paper knowledge and the movement of objects (opening lecture)
12:30-13:30: Lunch
13:30-14:30: Anna Maerker (King’s College, London) - Models as mediators? The global traffic in model bodies and model students
14:30-16:00: Parallel sessions 1a & 1b (‘Moralizing anatomies’ & ‘Paper technologies’)
16:00-16:30: Coffee break
16:30-17:30: Chloé Pirson (Université Libre de Bruxelles) – L’itinérance foraine du savoir anatomique

19:00: Conference dinner

Thursday 8 January 2015

9:00-9:30: Coffee
9:30-10:30: Helen MacDonald (University of Melbourne) – Corpse stories: anatomy, bodies and the colonial world
10:30-12:00: Parallel sessions 2a &2b (‘Global exchange’ & ‘Networks of medical knowledge’)
12:00-13:00: Lunch
13:00-14:00: Rina Knoeff (University of Groningen) – Touching anatomy – on preparations, relics and how they affect visitors
14:00-15:30: Parallel sessions 3a & 3b (‘Anatomical collections’ & ‘Body traffic’)
15:30-16:00: Coffee break
16:00-17:00: Natasha Ruiz-Gómez (University of Essex) – From hospital to salon: the artistic legacy of the Salpêtrière

19:30: Public lecture Andrew Cunningham in Museum M

Friday 9 January 2015

9:00-10:00: Michael Sappol (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD) – The apotheosis of the dissected plate: spectacles of layering and transparency in 19th- and 20th-century anatomy
10:00-10:30: Coffee break
10:30-12:00: Parallel session 4a & 4b (‘Recycling images’ & ‘Anatomy and the arts’)
12:00-13:00: Sam Alberti (Royal College of Surgeons, London) – Anatomical objects and their journeys (closing lecture)
13:00-14:00: Lunch

Parallel sessions

Parallel session 1
1a. Moralizing anatomies
Tinne Claes (KU Leuven) - Louis Laussedat (1809-1878). Politician, physician and crowd-pleaser
Stephen C. Kenny (University of Liverpool) - “Specimens calculated to shock the soundest sleeper”: the educational lives of anatomical and pathological exhibits on-board the Louisiana Health Train, 1910-1911
Birgit Nemec (University of Vienna) - Of social landscapes and political images. Visual cultures of anatomy in interwar Vienna, international networks and anatomical artefacts as media of exchange

1b. Paper technologies
María Eugenia Constantino (Instituto de Historia, Madrid) - Monsters: paper collections. Transit and knowledge of deformed bodies in Novohispanic Gazeta de México, 1784-1810
Nicholas Duvall (University of Manchester) - Post mortem by mail: the forensic autopsy and the written report in interwar Scotland
Stephan Sander-Faes (University of Zurich) - Wanted! The transfer of body knowledge in Central Europe ‘on the ground’ around 1800

Parallel session 2
2a. Global exchange
Sokhieng Au (KU Leuven) – The anatomy of a colony: the Congolese body displayed (1880-1930)
Oana Baboi (University of Toronto) - Anatomy without dissection: medical education in Escola Medico-Cirurgica de Goa
Shih-Ming Jung (Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan) - The circulation and spread of anatomical knowledge between Japan and Taiwan

2b. Networks of medical knowledge
Eva Åhrén (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm) - Have specimen, will travel: Anders Retzius, anatomical performance, and the circulation of scientific knowledge in early nineteenth-century Europe
Carin Berkowitz (Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, Philadelphia) - Knowledge in dispute: Bell, Magendie, and the establishment of priority across borders
Joris Vandendriessche (KU Leuven) - Reconstructing the trajectories of anatomical specimen in nineteenth-century medical societies in Belgium

Parallel session 3
3a. Anatomical collections
Margaret Carlyle (University of Cambridge) - Artisans, patrons, and Enlightenment: the circulation of anatomical knowledge from Paris to St. Petersburg
Caroline Girard (Université de Montpellier 1) – The Dr. Spitzner museum, or a long-living nomadic anatomy collection
Alfons Zarzoso and José Pardo-Tomás (Musea d’Història de la Medicina de Catalunya) - Anatomical knowledge to discipline people: a frightening and morbid spectacle in Barcelona, 1925-1936

3b. Body traffic
Sue Lederer (University of Wisconsin, Madison) - Bodies for science before anatomical gift acts, 1890-1955
Natalia Aleksiun (Tour College, New York) - “Christian corpses for the Christians”: The Cadaver Affair, Anti-Semitism and the Training of Jewish Physicians in Eastern-Central Europe between the Two World Wars

Parallel session 4
4a. Recycling images
Veronique Deblon (KU Leuven) - Reaching new audiences by recycling anatomical illustrations
Naomi Slipp (Boston University) - International anatomies: teaching visual literacy in the Harvard Lecture Hall
Corinna Wagner (University of Exeter) - Medicine and visual culture: the global exchange of pathological images

4b. Anatomy and the arts
Alexandra Manta (Central European University, Budapest) - Sensible and irritable bodies during the eighteenth century: between “Anatomia animate” and the tableaux vivants of French philosophical-erotic literature
Aris Sarafianos (University of Ioannina) - Anatomy “Healing the sick” and their arts: the transatlantic journey of anatomical drawings and paintings to Pennsylvania (1762-1817)
Sabine Wieber (University of Glasgow) - From aesthetic contemplation to medical knowledge: death masks in ‘Vienna 1900’


Bodies Beyond Borders. The Circulation of Anatomical Knowledge, 1750-1950, 07.01.2015 – 09.01.2015 Leuven, in: H-Soz-Kult, 19.11.2014, <>.
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