The medicalization of sunlight in the early twentieth century

Carter, Simon (2012). The medicalization of sunlight in the early twentieth century. Journal of Historical Sociology, 25(1) pp. 83–105.



This paper traces the emergence of the therapeutic use of sunlight in medicine during the first half of the twentieth century. This was a period of considerable flux in medicine with various strands of practice and theory competing. Drawing on two case studies of sunlight therapy, both artificial (actinotherapy) and natural (heliotherapy), in the treatment of rickets and tuberculosis this paper will explore how medicine was constituted within these regimes. The paper will argue that therapeutic and clinical applications of sunlight helped establish an association between sunlight and health but also defined a particular and specific performance of medicine.

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