Speaker: Irina Podgorny, Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute in the History of Science and Permanent Research Fellow at the Argentine National Council of Science (CONICET)
Abstract: The charlatan (or quack) is a historical character defined by his itinerant existence. Traveling from one marketplace to another, dealing in exotic objects and remedies, organizing shows and exhibitions, performing miraculous cures by appealing to the healing power of words and medicaments, charlatans have traversed Europe since medieval times. Far from being confined to certain countries or regions, they were everywhere, repeating almost the same sales strategies, the same words, the same sequence of performances. Podgorny’s lecture will present the network of itinerant characters that circulated antiquities, photographs, remedies, and natural history collections in South America from the 1860s to the 1880s, in order to shed light on the role of traveling conmen, quacks, and charlatans as both agents of the circulation of knowledge and intermediaries between professional and popular medicine.
With an introduction by Vanesa Miseres, Department of Romance Languages and Literature.