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Talk on Spanish Medicine by Dr Michael Stannard

By Paracarro  |  Posted: January 16, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Ansell Room Coaver Club County Hall Campus Topsham Road Exeter
7pm Wednesday January 2013 - Public welcome.

Dr Stannard will explain how Spanish physicians, most of them liberals, were at the heart of the uneven and contested process of national Europeanization that gained strength from the XVIII century. After the harshly ultraconservative década ominosa of Fernando VII, which ended in 1833, they emerged as leaders in the adoption of freedom of enquiry, teaching and the scientific method. Many physicians supported the liberal Gloriosa revolution of 1868 and were strongly identified with positivist (evidence-based) medicine and the theory of evolution, all in the face of opposition by political conservatives backed by the Catholic Church.
By the 1880s, they had achieved an elevated status in Spanish society as a result of their identification with the medical discoveries of Bernard, Pasteur, Lister, Virchow and Koch. Spanish doctors were viewed as intellectual leaders ushering in a better society based on their knowledge and training acquired from France, Germany and England. This exalted status is reflected in the works of Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920) whose Naturalist novels portrayed them as scientists with deep human sympathies.
The emergence of more modern medical thinking was gradual, however, and the decade of the 1880s witnessed a fascinating coexistence of the old and the new. The miasmatic theory of disease, for instance, was discussed side-by-side with the bacterial, while the Hippocratic theory of humours continued to be aired together with the latest findings in physiology and aetio-pathological medicine. Furthermore, the details of this overlap of ideas changed in the course of the 1880s as medical knowledge advanced. I shall discuss some of the coexisting intellectual paths that made this crossroads of medicine in the 1880s so very interesting.

More details from Roberto Franceschini 01392 434875

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