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Biographies of Remedies

Drugs, Medicines and Contraceptives in Dutch and Anglo-American Healing Cultures

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At a time when genetics and informatics are seen to transform therapeutic thinking once again, it is pertinent to look back to earlier therapeutic regimes. The long twentieth century has witnessed a tremendous upsurge in new drugs, remedies and therapeutic strategies. The cultural environments in which they emerged, the social circumstances from which they sprang, and the social effects that remedies engendered are treated in depth in this collection of essays. They address the historical variety of remedies as economic, social, and cultural objects and discuss their particular forms of production and distribution. Drawing predominantly on British and Dutch cases, the curious ‘biographies’ of modern drugs like streptomycin, taxol and interferon are reviewed, the shifting boundaries between medicines and toxic substances are explored, and remedial strategies such as contraceptives are scrutinised. This book, which emerged out of an Anglo-Dutch conference held in 1998, explores cultures of remedies from a comparative perspective.

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