CFP: UK Association for the History of Nursing Colloquium


The Friends’ Meeting House, Cirencester, United Kingdom


5th July 2019

The UK Association for the History of Nursing is hosting a one-day colloquium on 5th July, 2019, in collaboration with the European Association for the History of Nursing.  The theme will be ‘Histories of Humanitarian Nursing’, but abstracts on other subjects related to nursing and healthcare history will be welcomed and considered.  Selected papers will be presented at the Colloquium, and then further reviewed for possible publication in the 2019 issue of the Bulletin of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, or the 2020 issue of the European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics.

Colloquium Theme: Humanitarian Nursing

Nursing, as an occupation committed to the relief of suffering, may be said to be a humanitarian endeavour. However, the notion of the ‘humanitarian nurse’ is a contested concept, embedded in a colonial past dominated by powerful religious, political and military interests. Even the introduction of non-governmental organisations in the twentieth century, arguably, only replaced these power-bases with new sources of vested interest. Although the organisers will be pleased to receive research-based papers on any theme relating to the history of nursing, we are particularly interested in bringing together works that critically interrogate the claim that nursing exists only to relieve suffering; analyse the notion of the ‘humanitarian nurse’ from a historical perspective; and locate the contribution of nursing within wider humanitarian debates. A deeper understanding of nursing’s historic roles and activities can help inform the current global debate on how to meet the unprecedented demands for humanitarian assistance. Although nurses remain the largest frontline healthcare providers in humanitarian and global health projects, the voice of nursing was marginalized in the debates that culminated in the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. Recovering nurses’ historical narratives may inform current requirements for nurses’ education, and their preparation for, and recovery from humanitarian deployment. Attention to the history of humanitarian nursing will enable present-day leaders to protect nurses’ wellbeing, security, and effectiveness in the multiplicity of roles and responsibilities that far exceed mere technical competency. It is intended that the Colloquium will help inform not only the debates enveloping humanitarian nursing’s conflicted historic role but also its contemporary challenges in navigating a global system where the concept of humanitarian space is increasingly under attack.

Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to announce Susan Armstrong- Reid as the keynote speaker for the forthcoming Colloquium. Susan is Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Guelph, Ontario. In her research, she seeks to progressively give voice to and interrogate nursing’s complex and contested contribution to global health and humanitarianism. Her most recent book, China Gadabouts: New Frontiers of Humanitarian Nursing, 1941–51 charts the experiences of western and Chinese nurses volunteering in this conflict. For the colloquium, her paper focuses on her current research regarding civilian nursing and medical aid in Vietnam, both the Quakers, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and Canadian nurses working for the Canadian International Development Agency under the Columbo Plan. This is the first substantive look at civilian humanitarian nursing during the Vietnam War, reflecting upon the professional and personal ethical challenges presented by the changing humanitarian landscape since 1945. We could not ask for a more relevant and thought-provoking opening to the colloquium which will be a springboard to the further papers; we hope that you are able to join us.


Abstracts should be no more than 300 words in length. In-text references are welcomed, but a reference list is not required. Please do not include footnotes or endnotes. Please ensure that your abstract includes information on: the background to your project; the methods used; your findings; and a discussion and conclusion. ‘Works in progress’ are welcomed; in these cases, the inclusion of ‘preliminary findings’ is sufficient. Please forward your abstract to:

Deadline: 31 January, 2019: The call for abstracts remains open until 31st January and we would urge potential speakers to respond as soon as possible so that we can finalise the programme.