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Journal Article

Historiography of Biomedicine: “Bio,” “Medicine,” and In Between

Ilana Löwy
Vol. 102, No. 1 (March 2011), pp. 116-122
DOI: 10.1086/658661
Stable URL:
Page Count: 7
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ABSTRACT History of biomedicine is a hybrid domain, intersecting with many other scholarly disciplines. From the 1970s, historians who investigated recent developments in medicine increasingly shared the approaches, presuppositions, and methods of inquiry of historians and sociologists of science and technology. One reason is that the increasing reliance of medicine on technologies, instruments, and drugs makes the demarcation between “medicine,” “science,” and “industry” more difficult. Another is the “practice turn” in the history of science, which gave greater attention to the ways scientists and physicians work. The impressive achievements of historians who applied these new approaches came, however, at a cost. The neglect of an earlier generation of historians of medicine may have limited more recent ambitions for understanding health and disease in society. Closer links with historians of science and technology and sociologists of science may have blurred the specificity of medicine as a domain grounded in the distinction between the normal and the pathological and lessened scholars' interest in “the clinic” as a unique site of the production of knowledge.