A New Medical History Journal: EHMH

In June 2021, the first issue of a new medical history journal will be published: the European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health (EHMH). People will wonder: yet another journal? In this digital age? And also: yet another medical history journal? With so many fine journals around? They may be thinking of UK-based journals like Medical History and Social History of Medicine, and of US-based journals like the Bulletin of the History of Medicine and the Journal for the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences.
            The sceptics are right: these are indeed excellent journals. In fact, they may be regarded as the leading journals in our field, giving much inspiration and providing an outlet to medical historians across the world. At the same time however, they are collectively the embodiment of a global trend: the dominance of English as the lingua franca in science. In itself, this need not be a bad thing. After all, until the nineteenth century science was dominated by that other lingua franca: Latin. But combined with the generous funding by the Wellcome Trust and the fine publishing infrastructure in Anglophone countries, this linguistic dominance has led to a methodological and historiographical bias to the extent that publishing in English about English speaking countries has become the norm in international publishing. This constitutes an important difference between the use of Latin in the early modern era and the use of English today. The Roman Empire had fallen many centuries before, making Latin a language without territory, and perfectly suited to become the vehicle for international communication. The same is not true for English, a language that is very much alive, and that is spoken in the countries that came to define scientific standards: first in the West, then globally. With some exaggeration, this has led to a situation in which manuscripts on non-English speaking countries are often declined because their subject matter is ‘peripheral’ and/or not up to ‘international standards’.

            With the new journal, we hope to counterbalance the intellectual monoculture in our field. In itself it is of course a wonderful thing that so much excellent work is coming from the UK and the US. It constitutes a sophisticated body of knowledge, inspiring and guiding the field. At the same time however, Continental history is in danger of being ignored or left to ‘local’ researchers whose work will always remain hidden behind linguistic barriers to the rest of the world. That would be a great loss, if only for comparative reasons. Medical historians should be keen to know and understand different responses to similar challenges. The only way to accomplish this is to learn about the many different national styles of medicine and health care. The new journal seeks to provide a platform to all medical historians living and working in Europe and beyond. By making Continental medical history available to the wider world, it intends to show the sheer richness and diversity of all European medical history.
            The European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health has found a way to overcome the linguistic barrier. The new journal welcomes submissions in all European languages, coming from all regions and covering all eras, including social history, cultural history, history of ideas, material studies, science and technology studies, microstudies, ethnological and environmental approaches. Membership of the Editorial Board of the EHMH is not just an honorary position; members are expected to be proactive in soliciting manuscripts, since they are the ones who know their region best. They also help in finding reviewers who can understand the original language. Once it is decided that the manuscript is up to standards, it is translated into English and submitted to the Editors-in-Chief who still may ask for changes to be made or even reject it. On acceptance, the manuscript is published in English with a double abstract: one in English, and the other in the language of origin. The original manuscript is published on the website. Thus, two communities are served: the international community and the ‘local’ one, creating an international awareness of the medical history of *all* regions in Europe.
            The European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health is an Open Access, double-blind peer-reviewed, international journal dedicated to all aspects of the history of medicine and health in Europe and beyond. It publishes original articles, review articles, discussions, editorials, invited articles, book reviews, and regional or national focus articles on the history of medicine and health. Starting in 2021, and serving as a continuation of Gesnerus (1943-2020), the EHMH is published as the official journal of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health and the Swiss Society for the History of Medicine and Sciences. The journal will be published by Brill in Leiden, who also publishes the book series of the EAHMH, Clio Medica: Studies in the History of Medicine and Health (see https://brill.com/view/serial/CLIOON).
For more information on the journal, go to: https://brill.com/view/journals/ehmh/ehmh-overview.xml?language=en. Medical historians working in or on Spain and Latin America may address themselves to Javier Moscoso, member of the Editorial Board.