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The Right Treatment: Alt-Med, Anti-Science & Conservatism

January 22, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

The Right Treatment - event poster

“Alternatives” to the medical mainstream, including traditional Chinese medicine, faith-healing, and anti-vaccination beliefs, provide a window into debates over health, well-being, and personal choice in the marketplace. During the 1970s, California was a hotbed of health activism and medical entrepreneurship, a climate where contested medicines met various economic and political ideologies. Single-issue health movements underlined the importance of medical freedoms and consumer autonomy, and this talk will examine two examples: Laetrile, a controversial cancer treatment, and MDMA (ecstasy). We will interrogate competing visions of health and freedom in California as well as beyond. This matters because it helps to address who constituted the insiders and outsiders in the medical marketplace, as well as in society more broadly. The rise of the right in the US, in short, was in constant negotiation with health advocates, drug researchers, and pharmaceutical policymakers. Using documents from the Cicely Saunders Collection (King’s College) in London, Food and Drug Administration records, first-person patient accounts, medical literature, and news coverage, we will deliberate about the past and future of medical provision. This will underline how alternative medicines, conservatism, and anti-science ideals have had undeniable ramifications in the UK, Canada.

About the Speaker:
Dr. Lucas Richert is a Lecturer in History at the University of Strathclyde with specialisms in pharmaceutical and mental health history. His major publications include one award-winning book, Conservatism, Consumer Choice, and the FDA during the Reagan Administration: A Prescription for Scandal, with a further monograph contracted at McGill-Queen’s University Press. This forthcoming book is tentatively called ‘Strange Medicines: Drugs, Science and Big Pharma in Culture’.

This is event is free to attend, although we will be asking for donations at the end of the talk. Participants are under no obligation whatsoever to donate, however please rest assured that the money we collect doesn’t end up in anyone’s pocket – it is used to fund our overhead costs, and travel/accommodation for our speakers who come from further afield.

Accessibility: As per the policy of the Admiral Bar, access to the venue “can only be provided to patrons who are sufficiently mobile and capable of independently evacuating premises, or with the minimum of assistance”. Unfortunately, this leaves the basement inaccessible to most wheelchair users.


January 22, 2018
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm


The Admiral Bar
72a Waterloo Street
Glasgow, G2 7DA United Kingdom
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