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A Social History of Spirometers


A Social History of Spirometers

A Social History of Spirometers
Thursday 24 January 2019, 6pm-7.30pm
Courtyard Café, Palace Green Library, DH1 3RN

By Dr Coreen McGuire, Research Associate in the History of Medicine (University of Bristol) and Researcher on the Life of Breath project

Measuring the body seems characteristic of objective scientific practice. However, decisions about the types of measurements we prioritise and the types of bodies we choose to measure as standards are heavily weighted with historical biases and discrimination. The process of making breathlessness visible has therefore been characterised by a focus on objective precision measurement tools, exemplified in the story of the spirometer.

In this relaxed evening talk, Coreen will tell the story of the spirometer in Britain, illuminating the significant connections between measurement and disability. Measuring lung capacity through spirometry was necessary to define a standard of normalcy – there can be no abnormal without an initial definition of normal. However, questions about whether normal breathing was universal or varied between groups marked all such attempts: normal breathing for whom?

This event is part of the programme of events for Catch Your Breath (24 November 2018 - 17 March 2019), a free winter exhibition at Palace Green Library.

The evening talk will take place in the Courtyard Café and will include a free glass of wine.
Due to limited ticket numbers, please ensure that you book in advance to avoid disappointment:

Image credit: Science Museum, London.

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