History of Medicine


Every society has its healers; every medicine has its historians. This brief sentence summarizes the observation of an inescapable relationship, although mutable in time and space, between medicine, history and society.

An institute for the history of medicine was founded in Geneva in 1994, thanks to the support of the Faculty of Medicine and the Louis Jeantet Foundation, thus showing a long local tradition in this field, from the publication of the History of Medicine by the Geneva physician and scientist Daniel Leclerc (1696) to the courses given by Jean Starobinski in the 1980s. Since its beginnings, the Institute has been characterized by its international and transdisciplinary vocation through its members, collaborations and research. The practice of a history of medicine in dialogue  with the historiographical debates underway in Europe and the United States has taken place, therefore inevitably sensitive to interactions with the social sciences, in particular anthropology, sociology and gender studies.

It is on the basis of this marked identity that the History of Medicine Programme constitutes, since October 2012, one of the three pillars of iEH2. Our research favours a contextual approach to the study of the medicine of the past, an approach that is therefore led by the careful study and interpretation of sources allowing a critical look at the actors, facts and ideas. These same principles inspire our pre- and post-graduate teaching, which aims to stimulate a critical and informed reflection on the present through the study of the past.