Conference Agenda

2B: Global Hospital Networks
Wednesday, 08/Sept/2021:
10:45am - 12:00pm

Session Chair: Prof. Jonathan Reinarz, U Birmingham, Great Britain


Modernizing traditional Ottoman healthcare institutions during the 19th century: The cases of Balikli Greek Hospital of Istanbul and the Communal Christian Hospital of Heraklion*

Kanakis, Kostis

PhD History Candidate, Department of History & Archeology & Research Assistant, History of Medicine & Medical Ethics Research Laboratory, Medical School, University of Crete, Greece

During the 19th century, radical reforms took place in the Ottoman Empire. The ottoman state initiated an ambitious modernizing program that challenged pre-modern economic and administrative policies, old social hierarchies and institutions, established religious, cultural and scientific beliefs and practices.

Healthcare sector was heavily influenced by these reforms. The traditional ottoman medical paradigm, during the 19th century, was gradually replaced by a modern one. Modern sanitation practices appeared, new healthcare institutions were established, public health laws passed and medical schools and hospitals begun to function. At an ideological level, the concepts of health, sickness, philanthropy and pauperism took a new form.

The focal point of this paper will be two hospitals during the 19th century that belonged to Christian Orthodox communities. The first one is the Balikli Greek Hospital, located in the ottoman capital and the other one is the Communal Christian Hospital of Kandiye (modern day Heraklion, Greece) in the ottoman province of Crete Island. By examining these two hospitals, this paper will try to answer questions like: How was the transition from a traditional, eleemosynary type to a modern, state-backing hospital made? When did these hospitals lose their asylum approach to healthcare in favor of scientific, medical-oriented practices? How was the religious character of these hospitals replaced by a secular type? Did the ascending Christian bourgeoisie manage to undertake the control of the hospital’s administration over the clergy? And if so, how did this affect the services of the hospital? Finally, did the medicalization of healthcare prevailed?

Writing the ‘Aga Khan Hospitals’ into the History of Healthcare Architecture in the Twentieth Century

Honarmand Ebrahimi, Sara

University College Dublin, Ireland

Global histories of health in the twentieth century on the one hand and histories of architecture on the other have, for some time, questioned a model of ideas moving from the metropolitan core to the periphery, highlighting instead the multi-directional nature of knowledge transfer and the cooperation within the Global South. These studies have not yet been extended to include healthcare architecture. As a result, the pavilion plan/ hospital-as-officer-tower/ hospital-as-shopping-mall histories of healthcare architecture (Adams, 2016, 2008; Kisacky, 2017; Willis, Goad, and Logan, 2018) have remained unchallenged and continue to drive a linear narrative that sees the ‘modern’ hospital as a product of the ‘West’ that was exported to, or imposed upon, the rest of the world. This paper aims to challenge this linear narrative through a focus on the ‘Aga Khan hospitals’, a network of international hospitals based in Dar es Salaam, Mumbai, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi, and Pakistan (Regarding Aga Khan development network, see Karim, 2014). It will provide some background information about these hospitals; after which, it will draw on works by Sunil Amrith (2006, 2014), Abigial Green (2017), and Lukasz Stanek (2020), among others, to present some initial thoughts concerning the role of the Aga Khan Development Network and the transnational Shai Ismaili Muslim Community in the ‘internationalisation’ or otherwise of healthcare architectural forms in the twentieth century.

Hospital Networks around the Bay of Bengal: Institutions in a Time of Crisis

Bianchini, Francesco1; Willis, Michael1; De Simone, Daniela1; Rodriguez Roig, Dolors2

1Royal Asiatic Society, London; 2Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona

The medical traditions of South Asia rest on ancient texts, notably Suśruta’s and Caraka’s Compendia. These cover diseases, assorted disorders, instruments, surgical practices and theories of the body. Concurrently, extracts from the Buddhist canon were recited for prophylactic and therapeutic purposes. A substantial corpus of texts, known as dhāraṇī, was also composed to provide protection and control diseases if recited, copied and worn as talismans. Specific genres emerged to deal with special problems, the Garuḍa Tantra, for example, covering snake bite and poisoning.

None of these literatures describes in detail the institutions that were developed to deliver medical knowledge and treat patients. The history of these institutions—known as ārogyaśālā or hospitals—is known primarily from inscriptions and sites where such inscriptions were found. The history of these hospitals is in its infancy. Accordingly, we have formed a team to collect a wide range of epigraphic texts for analysis and comparison. The results, along with many other inscriptions, can be seen on

The paper proposed for EAHMH 2021 will present our work to date, and highlight some examples of hospitals and the finds associated with them. The inscriptions and finds give insight into healing practices and the nature of the hospitals supported by the state and the Buddhist ‘Church’. What emerges from the evidence is a burgeoning of hospitals in the late medieval, a time of severe climate disruption that precipitated the collapse in the 1200s of both the Khmer empire (Cambodia) and the kingdom of Polonnaruwa (Sri Lanka).