I’m waiting for someone to write a Begriffsgeschichte of the contemporary biomedical discourse.

The most recent Begriff-candidate on my list is ‘nanomedicine‘. The field’s pioneer, Robert A. Freitas, used the term ‘medical nanotechnology’ in a paper in 1998; a year later, the shorthand ‘nanomedicine’ appeared for the first time in a scientific article; and the same year (1999) Landes Bioscience started publishing a nanomedical book series with Freitas as its main editor.

Now ‘nanomedicine‘ is all over the place: the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine was started by Elsevier in 2005; the year after came Nanomedicine, and in March 2007 the European Science Foundation (ESF) published their authoritative report on the future prospects of the field.

It’s high time for historians of ideas to get involved in an analysis of the variegated and rapidly changing contemporary biomedical and biotechnological disciplinary discourses. Why are so many historians focussing on, say, 18th and 19th century political discourses when there are so many important biopolitical discourses emerging around us right now?

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