CFP: Working Across Species: Comparative Practices in Modern Medical, Biological and Behavioral Sciences

January 7-8, 2016, King's College London, London

Comparison is one of the foundations of modern medicine, biology and behavioral science. Particularly since the 18th century, thinking and working comparatively has been crucial to fields as wide-ranging as pathology, physiology, microbiology, pharmacy, epidemiology, veterinary science ethology, evolutionary biology,  psychology and anthropology;. It has informed practices as varied as natural history, taxonomy, nosology, diagnostics, and experimentation; the production of knowledge of life, health, disease, behaviour, emotion, and cognition; the making, testing and use of therapies; the organization of hospitals, museums, laboratories, field stations, farms, asylums, and industry; and to the training and routines of practitioners and researchers.

This workshop will explore a crucial aspect of the history of comparison in modern medicine, biology and behavioural science: thinking and working between humans and animals. Organized with the support of Wellcome Trust, it will investigate how different fields, institutions, experts, and epistemologies developed, deployed and depended upon comparative reasoning and practices across species. What has it meant to ‘compare’ in this way? What methods have counted as ‘comparative’? On what kinds of techniques and materials have they relied? How, where, and by whom has comparative knowledge been produced? How did it gain legitimacy and how was it contested? To what extent, and in what ways, did working comparatively between species involve collaboration between different disciplines, specialisms or institutions? How have comparative medicine, biology and behavioural science produced, reproduced or challenged categories of class, race, gender, and sexuality? And in what ways have they contributed to ideas of the ‘human’ and the ‘animal’, and constructed or broken down boundaries between them?

Call for papers

We welcome short proposals on topics related but not limited to these questions. The workshop aims to be broadly interdisciplinary, drawing together researchers and approaches from history, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and related fields.

Accepted papers will be pre-circulated 4 weeks in advance of the meeting. Commentators will be invited to introduce and discuss a paper, with each author responding to commentary and questions.

Proposals should include: a title, author(s) affiliation, and an abstract of no longer than 300 words. They should be submitted electronically as a Word or RTF document to:

For more information, please visit

Deadline: April 17, 2015

Posted: December 16, 2014