books & ideas / new titles / Figures of Medicine: Blood, Face Transplants, Parasites

Figures of Medicine: Blood, Face Transplants, Parasites

Written by François Delaporte | Translated by Linda Coverdale | February 2013
Figures of Medicine: Blood, Face Transplants, Parasites
Fordham University Press | February 2013

What does the infamous face transplant in France in 2005 share with the examination of “swollen faces” in Latin America in the 1930s? What does blood transfusion in Europe during the 17th century have in common with the discovery of mosquitoes as parasitic vectors in China at the close of the 19th century? And, last, how does the reconstruction of noses using skin flaps in Bologna in the 16th century relate to the opening of a forehead cyst in Guatemala in 1916?

The six essays that form Figures of Medicine present a wealth of symmetries. François Delaporte shows that each epistemological concern demands its own mode of engagement; problems reside not only in their objects but also in the historical situations in which they emerge. Focusing on efforts to resolve medical problems that are particular and nonetheless exemplary, Delaporte unpacks these separate cases to show how multiple actors—over long periods of time and across different geographies—must be taken into account to remove epistemological blockages that stand in the way of understanding. A remarkable contribution to the history of science and medicine, this book shows the value of historical epistemology from philosophical, historical, and anthropological perspectives.

More info


Article originally published by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States on frenchculture.org.

More new titles

new title

Anthropology Confronts the Problems of the Modern World

Anthropology Confronts the Problems of the Modern World is the first English translation of a series of lectures Claude Lévi-Strauss delivered in Tokyo in 1986.
new title

A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

In 1941 in occupied Paris, brothers Maurice and Joseph play a last game of marbles before running home to their father’s barbershop.
new title

Noah's Child

A priest takes in and protects young Jewish and Christian children, including the young Joseph. The spiritual awareness of a child, the wisdom of a man in the commotion and fury of war.