Call for Papers—Colonial Histories of Plant-Based Pharmaceuticals

HoPPSpecialIssue2021
Image Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection: The Munsong cinchona plantation, Kalimpong, Bengal, India: a woman in traditional Bengali dress holds a circular tray of cinchona (used to produce the anti-malarial drug quinine) seeds which are planted by the Bengali man next to her. Photograph, 1905/1920 (https://wellcomecollection.org/works/u3vcd8uy).

History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals, the official journal of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy published by the University of Wisconsin Press, is pleased to announce a call for papers for a special issue: “Colonial Histories of Plant-Based Pharmaceuticals.” Scheduled for the winter 2021 issue of HoPP (vol. 63, no. 2), guest editors for the special issue will be Dr. Geoff Bil and Dr. Jaipreet Virdi, both of the University of Delaware.

Submission Guidlines:

To submit a proposal for the special issue (see below for additional information), please send a 200-word abstract and 1-page CV to guest editors Geoff Bil (gbil@udel.edu) and Jaipreet Virdi (jvirdi@udel.edu) by January 31, 2021. Invitations for manuscript submission of 8,000 words will be sent by February 6, 2021, with first drafts due April 15, 2021, for peer review. Please consult the full HoPP author guidelines when preparing manuscripts.

Download a .pdf copy of this complete call for papers.

Call for Papers:

Plants and their medicinal properties have been used for healing since time immemorial. Plant-based pharmacopoeias have generated local, regional, and global systems of production, distribution, and consumption, defined trade relations across borders, and even accompanied exchanges of bodies and technologies. Scholars have examined, for instance, how the circulation and consumption of plants and pharmaceuticals were generated within deeply inequitable systems of colonization, with the accompanying exploitation, suppression, and erasure of ancestral knowledges. Within these contexts, the very definition of plants as medicines—as opposed to foods, taxonomical specimens, symbols or ornaments—is frequently unstable, shaped by language, culture, empire, and ecological context, and subject to contingent understandings of the body, physiology, illness, and treatment. While the rise of synthetic and chemical pharmaceuticals has inadvertently positioned herbalist approaches as “alternative” healing systems in the Western world, phytomedicines have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years as complementary forms of treatment, even while they constitute 80% of pharmacopoeias in the Global South. Increased demand, coupled with ecological destruction wrought by climate change, have furthermore depleted crucial plant resources, thereby threatening Indigenous ways of life. 

What are the cultural and epistemological tensions between plant-based pharmaceuticals and synthetic biomedicines? How have medicinal plants figured in colonial relationships? This special issue of History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals (Univ. of Wisconsin Press) aims to reframe histories of phytomedicines through intersecting approaches from the history of medicine, pharmacy, and pharmacology with postcolonial, Indigenous, and gender studies, histories of science and empire, labor history, environmental history, and related fields.

We seek papers on themes including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • Colonial histories of medicinal plants as examined through Indigenous and local histories
  • “Medical quackery” reframed through new histories of plant-based pharmaceuticals 
  • Workers and labor histories, including intersections with disability and industry
  • Gender, sexuality, and medicinal plant knowledges
  • Global and/or imperial consumption and distribution patterns 
  • Phytomedicines and colonial encounters in the Global South 
  • Plant-based approaches for chronic diseases, disability, and health maintenance
  • Effects of climate change and ecological factors on medicinal plant resources
  • Bioprospecting, patenting, and anti-colonial resistance
  • Medicinal plants in translation
Advancing knowledge and understanding of the history of pharmacy and medicines.
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