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Call for Papers: “A New Social History of Pharmacy & Pharmaceuticals”

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Symposium and Special issues of Pharmacy in HistoryThe Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, and Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

The aim of this Call for Papers and ensuing special issues is to generate a discussion related to the underexplored social history of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals. This 2-day interdisciplinary symposium will stimulate/connect new scholarship as well as place a spotlight on emerging trends in the studies of pharmaceuticals, drugs, and alcohol more broadly.

Pharmacies are important social, political, and economic spaces. And many of the products sold within pharmacies (or apothecaries) exist at the intersection of legitimacy and illegitimacy, domestic and international markets, and medicine and recreation. Candy and cannabis, alcohol and cigarettes, in addition to multiple lifestyle products, are sold in pharmacies in the U.S. as well as abroad. Of course, these goods are in addition to other prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

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The timing for such a multiparty issue is appropriate, considering how various new large-scale academic projects are tackling pharmacy and pharmaceuticals. These include, but are not limited to: Beyond the Medicines/Drugs Dichotomy: Historical Perspectives on Good and Evil in Pharmacy (Strathclyde/Johannesburg, WT); Intoxicating Spaces (Sheffield, Utrecht, Oldenburg, Stockholm/HERA); Pharmacosexuality: The Past, Present, and Future of Sex on Drugs (Royal Holloway, WT); Psychoactivity for Sale: Global Advertising and the Pharmaceutical Industry (McMaster, USask, SSHRC); What’s at Stake in the Fake? Indian Pharmaceuticals, African Markets, and Global Health (Warwick, WT).

In an effort to open up the field of pharmacy history—as well as nuance the history of pharmaceuticals—this CFP and future special issues of Pharmacy in HistoryThe Social History of Alcohol and Drugsand Canadian Bulletin of Medical History hope to complicate existing narratives and think more critically about the role of pharmacy and pharmacists in the marketplace. To do this, an approach from below is required.

Possible Paper topics include (but are not limited to):

  1. Women pharmacists

  2. Pharmacy and color

  3. Pharmaceuticals and masculinity

  4. Education & training

  5. Folklore & alternative practices

  6. Disabled bodies & pharmacy

  7. Drugs and the domestic sphere

  8. Gender & the drugstore

  9. Pharmacies and reproductive politics (e.g., birth control access)

  10. Health insurance, marginalized population, and reform

  11. Advertisements and promotion

  12. Cultural and social history of pharmacy signs

  13. Radicalism and pharmacy/pharmaceuticals

Where, When, & Funding

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy will host a 2-day symposium focused on social aspects in pharmacy and pharmaceutical history. This will be in partnership with the American Institute for the History of Pharmacy (AIHP), University of Saskatchewan, and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde. This symposium builds on UW-Madison’s and AIHP’s legacy of hosting events around the topic of pharmacy and pharmaceutical history.

Resources will be available to offset the cost of travel, accommodation, and conference meals. Postgraduates and early career researchers who may not have access to other sources of funding will be allocated the most funding. We are particularly interested in the perspectives of Post Graduates (PG) and Early Career Researchers (ERCs). Once the selection of papers has been completed, applications for these resources will be invited.

We invite submissions that deal with one or more of the above-mentioned topics or other possible topics that focus on the themes of this special issue. We particularly encourage submissions based on primary research and from an interdisciplinary or international/comparative perspective. Time period is open. Geographical boundaries are open. Papers in either French or English languages are also encouraged. Authors must submit a 500-word abstract (maximum) and a 1-page CV (as a single .pdf document) to Pharmacy in History Senior Editor and AIHP Assistant Director Greg Bond ( by 10 January 2020 for consideration.

By 1 March 2020 authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their paper to participate in the symposium. The due date for completed papers is 10 August 2020. The symposium will be held 24 and 25 September 2020 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. Papers accepted for the symposium will be considered for publication in the ensuing special issues of Pharmacy in HistoryThe Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, and Canadian Bulletin of Medical History.

For further information, please contact Dr. Bond at


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