The Flesh In Fetters

June 21, 2002

Major Conference On Control Of The Human Body Through The AgesThe University of Glamorgan is hosting a major three-day international conference on the history of the body from 24th to 26th June. “Controlling Bodies: The Regulation of Conduct 1650-2000 is an interdisciplinary conference bringing together new research on the body and attempts made over the centuries to regulate it from a variety of historical, cultural and theoretical perspectives.

This will be one of the largest history conferences ever held in Wales, with more than fifty speakers from ten countries taking part.

Virtually every aspect of the body and attempts to control it will be examined. Delegates will be considering bodily functions; clothing and fashion; death and survival; disability; discipline; disease; food; sex and marriage; moral campaigns; nations and the body politic; nature; nudity and display; policing and crime; race, religion, theoretical perspectives and work.

The conference is being organised by Dr David Turner and Kevin Stagg from the University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr Turner said that this will be the first time so many different aspects of control of the body have been considered in one event.

“The conference deals with some of the most important moral and social issues concerned with the way the body has been seen over the centuries,” he said. “We will be exploring how governments and other institutions have tried to control our bodies and how attitudes to nudity and sex, disability and disease have changed depending on the political and social climate of the time.”

Some of the areas covered will be body-snatching in the nineteenth century, the impotence trials in the reign of Louis XIV, and campaigns for moral regulation from the 1600s to the modern day, with an analysis of recent media campaigns and local opposition to sex shops.

Medical aspects of the history of the body also feature, with papers exploring the impact of disease on social trends, and debates in the past about the virtues of vaccination, currently such a contentious issue in relation to the MMR vaccine.

The history of disability will be under discussion, with Professor David Mitchell, of the Pioneering Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois, Chicago, presenting his recent film, “A World Without Bodies”, which explores the Nazi genocide of disabled people.

Professor Chris Williams of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Wales will be delivering a special plenary lecture at the Pontypridd Historical Centre on the physical hardships endured by South Wales miners.

The conference is supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Historical Society and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan.

Full details of the programme can be found at the conference Web site:

Notes to Editors Dr David Turner will be available on request to speak about the conference in general, and is chairing the panel on marriage. His special area of expertise is the history of adultery.

For more information, please contact one of the following: Press Manager Hilary King, University of Glamorgan on 01443-483362/07736 660538

Conference Organisers Dr David Turner, Lecturer in History, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan on 01443-483265 Kevin Stagg, Research Associate, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Glamorgan on 01443-483673