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Humane Professions
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Book description

In this compelling history of the co-ordinated, transnational defence of medical experimentation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Rob Boddice explores the experience of vivisection as humanitarian practice. He captures the rise of the professional and specialist medical scientist, whose métier was animal experimentation, and whose guiding principle was 'humanity' or the reduction of the aggregate of suffering in the world. He also highlights the rhetorical rehearsal of scientific practices as humane and humanitarian, and connects these often defensive professions to meaningful changes in the experience of doing science. Humane Professions examines the strategies employed by the medical establishment to try to cement an idea in the public consciousness: that the blood spilt in medical laboratories served a far-reaching human good.


‘Humane Professions is an absorbing, and vitally important, account of the response of medical scientists from 1876 to 1914 to the anti-vivisection movement's demand for legal regulation. Boddice has pulled back the curtain on the development of an internationally networked defence of experimental science for the lay public based on depicting the medical researcher as a heroic humanitarian.'

Bernard Lightman - York University

‘Humane Professions is a rich and perceptive account of experimental priorities in medical science that refuses to take for granted the stakes of scientific knowledge and its production for actors inside and outside professional circles. Boddice shows how, at its core, the story of making knowledge is a story of claiming humanness.'

Todd Meyers - McGill University

‘… a compelling account … Well-written and meticulously researched … Historians … will find Humane Professions a very valuable addition to the historiography.’

Karen Ross Source: Social History of Medicine

'Boddice’s book is a welcome addition to the literature of the history of physiology, experimental medicine, biomedical research, and-most of all-the antivivisection movement. It provides valuable insight into a dynamic period when medical science was transformed from a largely solitary, self-funded activity into an international enterprise deemed worthy of philanthropic and government support. The book is well written.’

W. Bruce Fye Source: Bulletin of the History of Medicine

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