Between Human and Veterinary Medicine: The History of Animals and Surgery

Woods, Abigail (2018) Between Human and Veterinary Medicine: The History of Animals and Surgery. In: Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery. Palgrave. ISBN 978-1-349-95260-1

Full content URL:

Between Human and Veterinary Medicine: The History of Animals and Surgery
Author's Accepted Manuscript
[img] Microsoft Word
Woods_A_REVOctAW.docx - Chapter
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive


As surgical subjects, animals were affected by, and contributed to many of the developments described in this handbook on the history of surgery. Yet as its chapters illustrate, when medical historians refer to surgery, they generally mean human surgery. Animal surgery is largely neglected. Even historians of animal disease have little to say about the matter. Although occasional glimpses are provided by general veterinary histories and accounts of experimental medicine, there are only a few publications dedicated to its analysis. This situation can be explained partly by the anthropocentric orientation of historical scholarship in general and medical history in particular. Although perspectives are beginning to shift, the roles of animals as products and shapers of history and society are still insufficiently acknowledged. Another factor is the diffuse and multi-faceted nature of animal surgery, which poses methodological challenges above and beyond those faced by historians of human surgery. Whereas human surgery was generally confined to clinical contexts and performed by dedicated practitioners whose actions were recognised at the time to be ‘surgical’ in nature, animal surgery was a more amorphous practice encompassing multiple species, whose diverse anatomies, physiologies, lifestyles, behaviours, disease tendencies and relationships with humans generated various rationales for surgery, and posed technical and ethical challenges to it. This chapter aims to facilitate future scholarship on the subject by describing some of the main features and cross-cutting themes of the history of animal surgery. It also suggests ways of approaching its analysis, and future directions for research.

Keywords:history, animals, surgery, veterinary medicine
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
Divisions:College of Arts
Related URLs:
ID Code:41500
Deposited On:17 Jul 2020 09:32

Repository Staff Only: item control page