Invitation: Dr. Maria Santesmases talks about The circulation of penicillin in Spain

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On Thursday, November 11, 2021, María J Santesmases will present her book The circulation of penicillin in Spain: Health, Wealth and Authority (London: Palgrave 2018). The book reconstructs the history of the circulation of antibiotics, with a particular focus on penicillin. It focuses on the material culture of antimicrobial activity and the industrial manufacture of penicillin. Santesmases follows penicillin from one research setting to another, from research settings to factories, and from there to pharmacies and focuses to the medical authority that granted the drug its social life constructing a narrative of health and health care. As she argues, microbiological knowledge and gendered practices travelled alongside the mould from which penicillin was extracted. Embedded in the post-war recovery, penicillin’s voyages through time and across geographies – professional, political and social – were both material and symbolic. This powerful antimicrobial captivated the imagination of the general public, medical practice, science and industry, creating high expectations among patients, who at times experienced little or no effect. Penicillin’s lack of efficacy against some microbes fuelled the search for new wonder drugs and sustained a decades-long research agenda built on the post-war concept of development through scientific and technological achievements. This historical reconstruction of the social life of penicillin between the 1940s and 1980s – through the dictatorship to democratic transition – explores political, public, medical, experimental and gender issues, and the rise of antibiotic resistance.


November 11, 2021, 18:15

Venue: Glückstraße 10, 91054 Erlangen

Language: English