Lucia Dacome

Lucia Dacome

Berenson Fellow
Medical Encounters: Health and Slavery in Early Modern Italy


Lucia Dacome is Associate Professor and Pauline M.H. Mazumdar Chair in the History of Medicine at the IHPST, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on themes at the intersection of the social and cultural history of medicine, the history of the body, and the history of health-related practices, encounters and knowledge exchanges in early modern Italy and the Mediterranean world. She is the author of Malleable Anatomies: Models, Makers, and Material Culture in Eighteenth-Century Italy (Oxford University Press, 2017). Her research has also appeared in Past & Present, Journal of the History of Ideas, History of Science, History of Psychiatry, Renaissance Studies, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

Project Summary

This project considers the place of health in the context of migration and slavery in early modern Italy. Historians have described the early modern Mediterranean world as a fluid and permeable space of encounter, characterized by both conflict and exchange. Throughout the early modern period, port cities enacted more or less porous borderlands that controlled the movement of humans and non-humans across different social, cultural, and religious settings. But what kind of spaces and practices of health were developed as a result of such encounters? And how did such practices frame Mediterranean interactions? This project addresses these questions by investigating the spaces and practices of health and bodily care that were developed in the context of slavery in the early modern Italian territories, with a special focus on port cities such as Livorno and Civitavecchia. One of the aims is to shed light on the histories of captives from the Ottoman world who participated in healing practices and knowledge. Another aim is to reconstruct how the practices and forms of knowledge emerging in these settings contributed to shape both the early modern world of healing and the relationship between the Italian territories and the Ottoman world.