Posted by: Bethan Jenkins | 01/11/2013

Wellcome Unit Seminar 04/11/13

‘Structures of Medical Knowledge’
Conveners: Drs Erica Charters and Elise Smith

Week 4 – 4 November
Clare Griffin, University of Cambridge
The Russian State and the Early Modern Drug Trade
Russian medicine of the early modern period is typically considered to be an import from Western Europe, based on the role Western European medical practitioners played in court medicine. Certainly, these foreigners and the ideas, practices and texts they imported were vital to Russian medicine. But devoting attention to the objects of medicine reveals a different picture. Drugs sold on Russian markets and used at court came not only from Western Europe, but from Asia, the Americas, and also from Russia itself. Based on an analysis of little-used Russian archival documents on the purchase and use of drugs, this paper reassesses the centrality of Europe to Russian medicine, showing it to be both more local and more global than previously thought.

Dr Griffin took her PhD at University College, London. Her work was based on the records of the tsars’ medical department, the Apothecary Chancery, as well as some medical texts linked to that department. Using these sources, she examined how and why certain pieces of medical knowledge were presented to the Russian chancery and courtly elite as reports, and what the topics of these reports can tell us about how Russians used foreign medical ideas.

She now holds a Wellcome Research Fellowship at Cambridge University, on a project entitled The Role of the State in the Global Drug Trade: The Case of Early Modern Russia.

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt

Headquarters of the Anglo-Russian hospital, Petrograd

Headquarters of the Anglo-Russian hospital, Petrograd


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