The Material Body 1500–1900 for archaeologists & historians

This is a British Academy-funded conference in July 2018 bringing together archaeologists and historians working on the material body in the post-medieval period.

The day event in Birmingham will be run by Prof. Karen Harvey, a historian of material culture, and myself, and will feature archaeological keynote lectures by our very own Jelena Bekvalac and Madeline Mant of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, in addition to two esteemed historians - Mary Fissell of The John Hopkins University, whose work focuses on gendered bodies, and David Turner from Cardiff, who has studied the body and work, especially disability and coal mining.




This conference brings together archaeologists and historians to explore new ways of studying the body in the post-medieval past. It will explore the challenges and possibilities of combining the archaeological, osteoarchaeological and historical record to understand the body and its role in the human past.

We invite archaeologists who also work with historical documents and historians who work with material culture, including physical remains of the body, to share and discuss their research. What can bodily remains tell us about experiences of the body during life?

How can the physical body be illuminated by using documents? What can scholars working on the history of the early modern body learn
from studying the remains of those bodies?

Themes may include:

  • Sex/gender, age, occupation and disability

  • The human body as material culture

  • Studying lived identity using the material body as tool

  • ‘Embodiment’ as a social and cultural, as well as physical, experience

  • Methodological interventions using the insights of historians and archaeologists working on the body


Please send a title and maximum 400-word abstract of 20-minute papers to this email address:
The deadline for abstract submissions is 16th February 2018.
Organised by Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins (Archaeology, University of Sheffield) and Professor Karen Harvey (History, University of Birmingham).

Funded by The British Academy
Supported by BRIHC.
Twitter: @KHarveyHistory @ecraigatkins #materialbody


archaeology history post-medieval material body

University of Birmingham England