Maritime Lecture: Health & Medicine in the Victorian Navy

Essential information

Event type: 
Date and time: 
8 February | 11am-12.30pm
Price: 
£8 | Members and students: £6
Location: 
National Maritime Museum, Lecture Theatre
Season: 
Talks & courses

Join us for a lecture and panel discussion with Professor Mark Harrison, Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

This lecture will explore the theme of naval medicine and disease, with a particular focus on the Navy in Japan. After Japanese ports became accessible to Western powers through a succession of unequal treaties, they became host to numerous foreign ships and their crews. Among these, the Royal Navy predominated and ports such as Nagasaki and Yokohama were frequent ports of call for ships serving in what was known as the China Station. Naval officers visiting these ports gave detailed accounts of the ports’ topography, architecture and social and cultural life, as well as matters directly related to the health and security of the Navy. Focusing on the 1870s – which saw mounting concern about venereal disease and a major epidemic of cholera – this talk will explore relations between the Japanese administration on the one hand and the Royal Navy and British diplomats on the other. It will describe attempts by the British to prevent the spread of disease in the treaty ports and, simultaneously, their attempts to block Japanese efforts to exert sanitary control over foreign nationals.

The subsequent panel discussion will explore these themes further within the context of naval hygiene, and will include Dr Elise Smith from Warwick University’s Centre for the History of Medicine.