University of St Andrews

I-POWER Seminar to be presented by Professor David N. Livingstone

The Institute for Population, Well-being and Environment Research (I-Power) is delighted to welcome Professor David N. Livingstone, (Queen’s University, Belfast) who will be presenting the I-POWER Seminar.

The event will take place in the Forbes Room, Irvine Building, from 4.00 - 6.00 pm on Wednesday, 11 May 2016.


Darwinian Hippocratics, Eugenic Enticements and the Biometeorological Body

Professor David N. Livingstone, (Queen’s University, Belfast)



In recent years the effects of climate change on human health have increasingly gripped the public imagination. In many ways, these concerns represent something of a recovery of the localism of the ancient Hippocratic tradition that had been revivified during the middle decades of the twentieth century.  At that point the human body was reconceptualised as a biometeorological entity responsive to the dictates of climate. In this talk I examine the work of several key figures in this retrieval who championed the new science of medical climatology.  I then go on to note something of the ways in which this neo-Hippocratic recovery came to be suffused with Darwinian evolution. Whatever the explanatory power of this synthesis, I argue that it embodied ways of thinking that were susceptible to the enticements of eugenics and to the lure of bio-politics – a drift that I identify in the writings of a number of biometeorology’s early pioneers.