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2nd Annual AH&MHN Public Lecture: Alison Downham Moore

Illustration by Jennifer N. R. Smith / WonderTheory, showing thorned brambles growing up the nervous system of a pink torso, the brambles at the bottom of the piece are growing in the shape of a uterus, and there are blackberries where the ovaries should be. A blue, gloved hand is coming in from the left to pluck at the ovary blackberry, and another gloved hand coming in from the right is using gardening secateurs to cut one of the branches. A metaphor for endometriosis, and in a broader sense, women’s medical neglect and oppression.
Wednesday, 1 June 2022 
5:15pm to 6:45pm AEST 
Host: Associate Professor Elizabeth Stephens 
Discussant: Dr Mia Harrison
The Writers Studio, Level 6, Michie Building, UQ
To attend in person please RSVP to Elizabeth at 
A recording of this talk can be found here:

Gender in Medicine and Health

The term ‘gender’, referring to cultures of sexed difference, is a late twentieth century concept deriving from medical rationales and clinical practices of postwar American treatments of intersex children. These were in turn informed by German sexological inquiries into diverse expressions of sexed identity and comportment elaborated in the interwar period. European medical writers from the early nineteenth century had queried why men and women appeared to differ in relation to diet, exercise, vitality, ageing and mortality, broadly construing women as the more morbid sex despite their greater longevity. The bifurcation of men’s and women’s biology informed the structures of modern medical disciplinary formation, as reflected in the view that women’s reproductive organs warranted their own area of medical specialisation. It also helped to produce the predetermination of different sex-steroid hormones as ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, informing divergent practices of their exogenous prescription into our own time. Has biomedicine produced gender by policing an imagined border between the sexes, at the same time as it has troubled its own dichotomies to enable the possibilities of gender mutability?


Alison Downham Moore is a historian and medical humanities scholar at Western Sydney University. She is author of 3 books about medicine, psychiatry, gender or sexuality, most recently The French Invention of Menopause and the Medicalisation of Women’s Ageing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022). She has also written numerous articles on the history and culture of gut health, of psychiatric ideas about sexuality, of medical ideas about ageing, and on historical theory or historiography. She is currently completing a book on Gendered Ageing in the History of Biomedicine, and is working on new collaborative interdisciplinary projects on nineteenth-century hygiene, on the history and current practices of gynaecological surgeries, and on the historical inquiries of Michel Foucault.


Mia Harrison is a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) at UNSW. She works as part of the Evidence-Making Interventions in Health program of research, led by Associate Professor Kari Lancaster and Professor Tim Rhodes. Mia has a background in transdisciplinary research in the field of critical medical humanities and brings mixed method approaches to investigate social, ethical, and philosophical concerns in health and medicine. In particular, Mia's work is informed by research approaches in feminist science and technology studies, medical ethics, cultural studies, and critical disability studies. She is also interested in the value of popular culture in research and pedagogy as a feeling- and affect-inflected mechanism for critical thinking. In addition to her work at the CSRH, Mia draws upon her background in media production and technology to produce public scholarship through the medium of podcasting.