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Dr Anna Maerker

Reader in History of Medicine


Twitter Handle: @annamaerker

I am interested in the intersections of science, medicine and technology in

eighteenth- to early twentieth-century Europe, with a focus on the history of

(real and artificial) bodies and body technologies.

My undergraduate degree at the University of Regensburg combined physics

and history of science; I then moved to Cambridge for a Master’s degree in

History and Philosophy of Science, and to Cornell University for a PhD in

Science & Technology Studies. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the

Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and a lectureship

at Oxford Brookes University I started at King’s in 2011.

My research interests include:

  • The history of anatomy, especially anatomical models, specimens, and collections

  • The history of medical technologies

  • The role of underrepresented historical actors in science (e.g. technicians, artisans, popularisers, women)

  • Public history

  • Museum studies and the history of education

In my work I investigate the relationship between everyday scientific practice and key epistemological concerns relating to issues such as authority and representation. I am also interested in the broader political consequences of scientific and medical research and education, especially for the creation of the modern state and reform movements of the modern era.

Postgraduate Supervision:

Current Students:

Helen Esfandiary

Liam Fitzgerald


Past Students:

Douglas James

Laura Newman

Research Projects:

My current project Model Communities: Artificial Anatomies in Global Circulation, c.1820-1920 investigates the creation of the first mass-produced anatomical models for teaching purposes, and follows the models across the globe to analyse how these artificial bodies shaped reform projects and communities from Egyptian midwives to American women’s rights campaigners.

Recent Publications:

Edited volume:

History, Memory and Public Life: The Past in the Present, eds. Anna Maerker, Simon Sleight,

Adam Sutcliffe (London: Routledge, 2018). 

Articles and chapters:

“Papier-mâché Anatomical Models: The Making of Reform and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France and Beyond”, for Working and Knowing with Paper: Towards a Gendered History of Knowledge, eds. Carla Bittel, Elaine Leong, Christine von Oertzen (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019).

“The Problematic Body: Dissection and the Rise of the Anatomy School”, for Medicine: An Imperfect Science. Medicine and the Modern Museum, ed. Natasha McEnroe (London: Science Museum, 2019), 66-81. 

With Adam Sutcliffe (lead author) and Simon Sleight, “Introduction: memory, public life, and the work of the historian”, in History, Memory and Public Life: The Past in the Present, eds. Anna Maerker, Simon Sleight, Adam Sutcliffe (London: Routledge, 2018), 1-25.

“Hagiography and Biography: Narratives of ‘Great Men of Science’”, in History, Memory and Public Life: The Past in the Present, eds. Anna Maerker, Simon Sleight, Adam Sutcliffe (London: Routledge, 2018), 159-79. 

““Wunderbare Vorrichtungen” oder “nutzloses Spielzeug”? Debatten zum öffentlichen Nutzen der Visualisierung des Körperinneren”, in “Erkenne dich selbst!” Visuelle Gesundheitsaufklärung im 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Sybilla Nikolow (Boehlau, 2015), 133-43. 

“User-developers, model students and ambassador users: the role of the public in the global distribution of nineteenth-century anatomical models”, in The fate of anatomical collections, eds. Rina Knoeff and Rob Zwijnenberg (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 129-42.

“Within one’s grasp: anatomical displays from cabinet of curiosities to shop window”, Historical Social Research 40:1 (2015), 284-300 [special focus “Spaces – Objects – Knowledge. An Integrative Perspective on Recent Turns in Historical Research”]. 

“Models and materials in Europe, 1650-1890”, in Elizabeth Hallam (ed.), Designing Bodies: Models of Human Anatomy from Wax to Plastics (London: Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2015).

“Between profession and performance: Displays of anatomical models in London, 1831-32”, Histoire, Médecine et Santé 5/2 (2014), 47-59 [special issue “Anatomical Models”].

“Zum Nutzen anatomischer Modelle”, in Blicke! Körper! Sensationen: Ein anatomisches Wachskabinett und die Kunst, ed. by Eva Meyer-Hermann (Wallstein Verlag/Deutsches Hygienemuseum, Dresden, 2014).

“Anatomy and Public Enlightenment: The Florentine Museo ‘La Specola’”, in Medical Museums: Past, Present, Future, ed. by Sam Alberti and Elizabeth Hallam (Royal College of Surgeons, 2013), 88-101.

“Anatomizing the Trade: Designing and Marketing Anatomical Models as Medical Technologies, c.1700-1900”, Technology & Culture 54/3 (2013), 531-562.


Recent Grants, Awards, and Prizes:

  • AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with Philip Attwood, British Museum: “Merit, Competition, and the Material Culture of Useful Knowledge: the Collection of Scientific Prize Medals at the British Museum”, 2018.

  • Doan Fellowship, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia. 2017

  • Fellowship, Durham Institute for Advanced Studies (2017)

  • Fellowship, Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (2016)

  • Rick Trainor doctoral studentship: “Beyond the Madness of King George: Health and Healing at the Georgian Court”, 2017


Upcoming Events:

Co-convener of the IHR Public History Seminar series

Engagement activities:

  • Consultant: Florence Nightingale Museum redevelopment, UK Medical Heritage Library.

  • Exhibition consultant: Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden, Wellcome Collection, Hunterian Museum.

  • Historian in residence: Royal College of Surgeons, 2016-18.

  • Appearance on BBC 2 tv programme “George III – The Genius of the Mad King” (30 January 2017). 

  • Appearance on BBC Radio 4, Front Row, “Shakespeare’s medicine” (5 January 2017). 

  • Guest blogger: Wellcome Library Blog, Medicine in Shakespeare’s Time (23 April 2016).

  • Interviewee: BBC Radio 4, Digital Human Series 8, “Body” (9 November 2015).

  • Short lecture series: “Electricity”, “Anatomy”, “Automata”: Royal Academy Lates: Masquerade (23 May 2016). 

  • Public lecture: “Voice and revolution”, Nerdnite London (20 May 2015). 

Maerker - History, Memory and Public Lif
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