Brown Bag Lecture: Reconsidering the Periphery’s Pharmacopoeia: Medicine for Animals in 18th-Century Mauritius and Réunion Islands

October 2, 2017
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Join us for a Brown Bag Lecture by Kit Heintzman, a historian of medicine and science in 18th-century Europe.

This talk reexamines assumptions about resource access in the production and diffusion of pharmaceutical knowledge within the Indian Ocean region by looking at the pharmaceutical records, local newspaper publications, and medical recipe correspondence in and out of Mauritius and Reunion Islands between 1770 and 1810. Apothecaries, physicians, natural historians, veterinarians, and lay practitioners held very different imaginaries regarding the island’s material pharmaceutical resources, whether indigenous, transplanted, or commercially imported.

In particular this presentation looks at the pharmaceutical practices of the first veterinarian exported onto a colonial mission, François Eloy Beauvais. By reading Beauvais’s printed publications on the island against the pharmaceutical inventories of the island and his previous metropolitan pharmaceutical practices, I show how his medical practices were newly inflected by assumptions about rural, metropolitan, and settler farmers. I close by examining how Beauvais’s freedom to print his recipes differed in the metropolitan and colonial contexts and what this may tell us about his epistemic authority in what was a tumultuous 40-plus-year career on Mauritius.

About the Speaker

Kit Heintzman is a historian of medicine and science in 18th-century Europe. Her research explores the impact of state-supported medical care for nonhuman animals as seen through the foundation of the world’s first veterinary schools in 1760s France. Kit’s dissertation examines how the changing relationship among nonhuman-animal actors, medical practitioners, and state administrators was strategically reimagined alongside radical political upheaval at the dawn of modern nationalism. 

Kit is conducting a PhD in the history of science department at Harvard University and has received dissertation support from SSHRC (Canada), Chateaubriand (France), and the Krupp Foundation (Center for European Studies, Harvard). Kit received a BAH and MA from Queen's University (Kingston, Canada) and has lectured at SciencesPo, Reims, in both history and women’s studies. 

About the Series

Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.