Recently, at a conference, I presented on the history of Finnish folk medicine. After the talk, I got a question from the audience about the peculiarities of folk healing in Finland. Having spent a number of years studying African medical systems, I could only point to the similarities between Finnish and African folk remedies – the use of cupping horns, herbalism, and bone setting. However, someone suggested that sauna perhaps presents a Finnish specialty, and many in the audience seemed to accept this idea. I immediately started thinking about Amerindian sweat lodges and Turkish hammams. Steam cabinets were also used in precolonial Africa as a standard treatment for syphilis, as documented by Rømer on the Gold Coast in the mid-eighteenth century. In this blog post, I want to briefly touch upon the global history of sauna and bathing, which remains to be written in English. Continue reading “Sauna and bathing in global history”
In this blog post, me and my colleague Markku Hokkanen share our thoughts on writing medical history from a global history perspective. We have recently completed editing a book titled Kiistellyt tiet terveyteen (Contested Ways to Health, Finnish Literature Society, forthcoming in 2017), in which we examine healing from a cultural and social perspective in global history.