Do Our Diseases Define Us?

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The project focuses on identifying palaeopathology and historical dissection techniques present amongst the specimens from the 18th and 19th century human anatomy and pathology collection curated at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

The main aim of this project is to provide a greater understanding of the evolution of medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries, in particular how disease was perceived. Its focus is on who the individuals in these collections were, how they were affected by disease in life, and how their bodies were used to define pathology in death through medical research and teaching. By depicting both the antemortem lives and postmortem use of these individuals we will be able to address the larger debate on how disease and medical practices affect identity. This will be achieved by conducting a full investigation of a medical pathology collection, combining the bioarchaeological analysis with archival research.


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