Sauna and bathing in global history

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”

Conceptualising a global history of healing

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.

Continue reading “Conceptualising a global history of healing”