A free online conference organised by the Historians’ Workshop, the Political Economy Tokyo Seminar (PoETS), and the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Economics, to be held live via Zoom

Friday 19 – Saturday 20 November 2021, 5-9pm (JST)

This international conference explores medicine’s co-dependent relationship with business and capitalism. Commentators past and present have viewed medicine as a ‘public good’ that risks becoming inefficient or undersupplied when exposed too much to market competition. However, across different historical and regional contexts, forces of self-interest and the profit motive have consistently shaped matters pertaining to our health and body, often to a surprising degree. In a recent discussion piece in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (2020), Christy Ford Chapin points to intersections where both medical historians as well as economic and business historians have, often unknowingly, made huge strides in one another’s research themes. This two-day event aims to identify these intersections and interrogate what they mean to our understanding of medical knowledge and practice. 

We welcome a variety of papers that may deal with, but are not necessarily restricted to, the following themes:

  • Medicine and health as a business: private health care and insurance, pharmaceuticals, health and fitness products, the wellness industry
  • The public-private dynamic in health care systems
  • Industry funding of medical research and their epistemological impacts
  • Discourses on health and the body in marketing and advertising
  • Profit-driven disease risks and health hazards
  • Attitudes towards capitalist systems and practices among medical professionals
  • History of health economics
  • Capitalist medical practices in non-capitalist economies and societies

Proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes or panels of up to 90 minutes are invited relating to the theme of this conference. Abstracts of ~300 words and a CV for individual speakers, or panel blurbs of ~400 words and individual abstracts & CVs for each speaker, should be sent to Ryosuke Yokoe at medicine.as.business.2021@gmail.com by 17 September 2021.

The Historians’ Workshop is proud to host this English-language symposium at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Economics. We aim to create an open space for scholars from across the world to share research that is both completed and work-in-progress and to establish new networks between historical researchers in Japan and abroad.

Plenary SpeakerProfessor Pierre-Yves Donzé
Professor of Business History, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University
Author of Making Medicine a Business: X-ray Technology, Global Competition, and the Transformation of the Japanese Medical System, 1895-1945

Guest CommentatorProfessor Daiji Kawaguchi
Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Economics, University of Tokyo

Dates: Friday 19 – Saturday 20 November, 5-9pm (JST)
Deadline for Abstracts: 17 September 2021, medicine.as.business.2021@gmail.com
Expected number of speakers: 11
Location: Online (Zoom)
Language: English
Participation: Free

If you have any questions, please message Ryosuke Yokoe at medicine.as.business.2021@gmail.com

Featured Image – Jos van Brée (1860), ‘interior of a pharmacy, with four figures’, oil painting, Wellcome Collection