CeMoRe & CSS Seminar - Simon Carter

Date: 29 November 2007 Time: 4.00-6.00pm

Centre for Mobilities Research & Centre for Science Studies

Simon Carter (Sociology, Open University)

Heliosis: Sunshine, Hygiene and Medicine

29 November Institute for Advanced Studies MR3 4-6pm

Introduced by John Urry, CeMoRe and SociologyChaired by Maggie Mort, Centre for Science Studies and Institute for Health Research

From the beginning of the twentieth century a variety of medical forces changed the relationship between human bodies and sunlight. For example, both the People's League and the New Health Society played a part in public health campaigns around the benefits of sunlight. However, campaigns like these framed sunlight exposure in order to stabilise a specific social figuration as part of a broader social hygiene movement. Yet, by the early 1920s, a variety of organisations and movements appeared that sought to materially 'domesticate' the sun's rays as a great health benefit in its own right. In this paper I will examine the promotion of sunlight in this period in order to chart the emergence of a nexus made up of bodies, sunlight and social environments. I have termed this assemblage a heliosis - to capture the idea of an interactive stabilisation between the various knotted couplings of the human body in the sunlit environment.

Simon Carter's research is in Science & Technology Studies, especially as applied to issues of health and medicine. He recently completed an historical study examining the cultural turn towards the sun and sunlight in early twentieth century Europe, providing an analysis of the roles that sunlight played in the mediation of notions of health, pleasure, the body, gender and class. He has also conducted research into critical approaches to the public understanding of science as applied to health issues.

Response: John Welshman (Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University)

John recently reviewed Simon's book 'Rise and Shine' for the journal Medical History and will introduce a discussion of Simon's talk. John's own research interests are in the history of public policy in twentieth-century Britain; his most recent book is 'From Transmitted Deprivation to Social Exclusion: Policy, Poverty, and Parenting' (Bristol, 2007). Earlier work on the history of public health has covered such themes as tuberculosis and migration, housing, and the emergence of health services for schoolchildren.

There will be a meal with Simon after the seminar (at a venue yet to be determined and at own cost). If you would like to come along please email Pennie Drinkall


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Maggie Mort (Sociology), John Urry (Sociology), John Welshman

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe), Centre for Science Studies, Sociology