Born in France (Montpellier) I studied in Montpellier and later at the Sorbonne with professor François Crouzet before moving to Manchester to obtain my PhD. I held my Wellcome postdoctoral fellowship in Manchester at the Centre for the History of Science Technology and Medicine and then moved across the Pennines to lecture in the history department of the University of Huddersfield. After many happy years in Huddersfield, I am now delighted to be back in the University of Manchester.
Having begun as a British historian of urban sociology and Henry Mayhew in particular, I moved on to study the history of medicine and sexuality during and immediately after my doctoral thesis. From 1993 onwards my work has become concerned with the themes of medicine and war, My view was that the social and cultural history of medicine and war proved to be a field in need of revision. My work has always used cultural history informed by anthropology, history of science, medicine and technology, philosophy and sociology. The questions that I wished to address were directly relevant to these disciplines and to an interdisciplinary approach to cultural history based on the ‘linguistic turn’ and the use of theory as appropriate.
My current research dwells on the history of humanitarianism in relation to military medicine, in particular colonial medicine and missionary medicine, in particular Catholic missionary work in the French empire broadly defined. My particular areas of interest are: Algeria from 1860 until 1939; the Cameroon and in particular the work of Ad Lucem and Dr Aujoulat, the new forms of humanitarian medicine arising in the post-colonial context and for the later period Médecins Sans Frontières.