Skip to main content

Material cultures of care and emotion in Britain and Spain, 1890-1940

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

The culture of care

An EU team examined the history of medical care, from the viewpoint of patient culture and environment. Work yielded several comparative Spanish and British case studies, from 1890-1940, which helped identify non-medical factors in recovery.


Medical treatments, for all their sophistication, have also become mechanised and impersonal. In response, there is a growing trend towards treating the whole patient, including mind and emotions. The EU-funded HISTCARE (Material cultures of care and emotion in Britain and Spain, 1890-1940) examined the historical precedents affecting modern trends in medical care. The study compared material cultures, physical spaces, and cultural representations associated with creating patient experiences. The purpose was to deepen historical understanding of the way spaces, objects and emotions produce health and disease. Initial work mainly consisted of defining the historical approach and exploring sources. As a result, the team identified and evaluated several relevant case studies from Britain and Spain. The investigation yielded three papers: two concerning the relationship between material culture and emotions, and a third about the specifically Hispanic approach. Two further papers, a book chapter and a monograph were in preparation as of the study's end. Project members also participated in a conference. HISTCARE also completed its training objectives, whereby researchers received instruction in teaching, project management, and public engagement. The latter consisted of two completed Spanish-language podcasts on the topic, with a further eight to be released. The team also completed two apps for mobile devices. One concerned the history of wax anatomical representations, and the second is a resource for teachers. HISTCARE yielded a greater understanding of the role of the emotions and cultural environment in healing and disease. Results may help improve standards of medical care.


Medical, treatments, HISTCARE, whole patient, material, culture

Discover other articles in the same domain of application