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Sabine Anagnostou

Southeast Asian Missions as Centers of Forming, Transfer and Globalisation of Medical-Pharmaceutical Knowledge in the 17th and 18th Centuries

11:50 AM-12:20 PM

ABSTRACT: From the 17th to the 18th centuries, missionaries in Southeast Asia dedicated themselves to providing and establishing a professional medical-pharmaceutical supply for the local population and therefore explored the genuine materiae medicae for easily available and affordable remedies, especially medicinal plants. In characteristic medical-pharmaceutical compendia, which can be classified as missionary pharmacopoeias, they laid down their knowledge to advise others and to guarantee a professional health care. As their knowledge often resulted from an exchange with indigenous communities, these compendia provide essential information about traditional plant uses of Southeast Asian people. Individual missionaries like the Jesuit Joseph Kamel (1661-1706) not only strove to explore medicinal plants but performed botanical studies and even composed comprehensive herbals. The Jesuit missionaries in particular played roles both in the order’s own global network of transfer of medicinal drugs and knowledge about the application, and within the contemporary local and European scientific networks which included, for example, the famous Royal Society of London. The results of their studies were distributed all over the world, were introduced into the practical materiae medicae of other regions, and contributed significantly to the academization of knowledge. In our paper we will explain the different intentions and methods of exploring, the resulting works and the consequences for the forming of the pharmaceutical and scientific knowledge. Finally, we will show the options which the works of the missionaries can offer for the saving of traditional ethno-pharmacological knowledge and for the development of modern phytotherapeutics and pharmaceutical supply.

About the Speaker

Professor Sabine Anagnostou is President of the German Society for the History of Pharmacy (DGGP) and Professor for the History of Pharmacy, Philipps-Universität Marburg. She specialises in missionary pharmacy (16th to 18th centuries), the development of networks for international drug transfer and influences on different materiae medicae. Prior to joining the research faculty of Marburg, from 2001-2004 Prof. Anagnostou was a Scholar of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for the project: “Pharmacies of religious orders in Central-Europe and Spanish-America as institutions of the exchange/transfer of medicinal drugs and pharmaceutical knowledge (16th -18th c.)”. She was also Fellow of the International Society for the History of Pharmacy in 2004.

Prof. Anagnostou has written on topics relating to the history of botany, history of medicinal plants, ethnopharmacy, and traditional medicinal plants as modern phytotherapeutics. She was lauded as a Privatdozent for her 2009 book Missionary Pharmacy, which was awarded Habilitation status by the University of Marburg, and won the Dalhberg Prize by the Academy of Erfurt in 2011. Her doctoral thesis “Jesuits in Spanish-America transferring medical knowledge” was published as a book in 2000 and was awarded the “Prix Carmen Francés” by the International Society for the History of Pharmacy in 2003.

Prof. Anagnostou is a registered pharmacist, having studied Pharmacy at the Bayerischen Julius-Maximilians-Universität in Würzburg. She earned her PhD in the History of Pharmacy at the Philipps-Universität in Marburg.

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