The Right to Write the History

Disputes over the History of Medicine in France – 20th-21st Centuries


  • Corinne Doria Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University



Historiography of Medicine, History of Medicine, History of Medicine in France, Epistemology


This article reflects on the history of medicine as an academic discipline. It analyzes in particular the debates that took place in France between the second half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. The first part recalls the main features of the discussions about the history of medicine since it was identified as an autonomous discipline up to the epistemological turn that, in the middle of the 19th century, opposed partisans of a “philological and scientific” to partisans of a “heroic” history of medicine. The second part deals with the debates that began in France in the 1960s-1970s over the legitimacy of a history of medicine written by physicians, and the foundation of a history of medicine written by professional historians. The third part proposes a reflection on the future of research and teaching in this field in France, and highlights the need for cooperation between physicians and specialists in the human and social sciences.


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How to Cite

Doria, Corinne. 2017. “The Right to Write the History: Disputes over the History of Medicine in France – 20th-21st Centuries”. Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science, no. 3 (December).