THE PALGRAVE HANDBOOK OF THE HISTORY OF SURGERY 2018
This Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery 2018 handbook is meant to address the gap in historical attention to surgery. It covers fundamental developments in the technical, social and cultural history of surgery, but it also offers broader perspectives on the subject. The individual entries function as starting points for anyone who wants to obtain up-to-date information about the respective topic or area, be it for purposes of research or just for general information. Thus, each of the chapters reflects state-of-the-art historical research on its specific subject.
The contributions deal with the approaches other researchers have taken, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and situate them in the context of past and ongoing historiographical discussions. They point to the significance of their specific topics for the history of surgery and, if applicable, for the history of medicine and other areas of history too. Even though the handbook’s emphasis is modern surgery, it also takes a longer perspective by including pre-modern medicine in some of its chapters.
The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery 2018 handbook’s purview thus goes beyond taking stock of what has been done in the field to include new directions and approaches in the history of surgery.
In this introduction, the author discusses what is unique about surgery as a historical topic and a theme for a handbook. For this purpose, the author defines surgery from a historical point of view and layout to what extent it is specific to the West and the modern period. As an introduction, this chapter does not provide a detailed survey of the research literature. This can be found in the Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery 2018 book chapters themselves. Instead, I draw the threads of the different branches together and point out in which ways they address the specificity of surgery.