Who speaks about illness? A long history of Migraine


Katherine Foxhall
(University of Leicester)

Migraine is an extremely common disorder; it affects around 15% of women, and 6% of men. It is included by the WHO in its Top 20 causes of years lived with disability, but is widely under-diagnosed and under-treated. In this seminar I look at the long history of migraine. In particular, I ask who has ‘spoken’ for migraine in the past, what kinds of knowledge have been taken seriously at different times, and how has this history inflected our current attitudes towards this disease?  Migraine has a history filled with fascinating people from the seventeenth-century women who collected remedies in their recipe books to the viewers of twenty-first century Youtube videos. Asking ‘who speaks’ of and about migraine in different contexts, however, does more than simply insert ‘sufferers’ into the medical history of a common and disabling neurological disorder.  It also suggests that we need to rethink the relevance of the category of ‘patient’ altogether for much of the history of chronic illness.

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Thursday, 23rd October 2014 at 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: Jerry Morris A, Tavistock Place