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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: People

Lukas Engelmann

Lukas Engelmann
Lukas Engelmann
Chancellor's Fellow, Senior Lecturer - History and Sociology of Biomedicine
2.92 Old Surgeons' Hall High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)1316506367
Research Interests
Medical history, Medical Anthropology, Medical sociology, digital culture, Epidemiology


I received my PhD in History at the Humboldt University in Berlin before I took up a position as post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for the History of Medicine in Zurich in 2013. My doctoral research focused on the visual medical history of AIDS/HIV. This research led to my first book, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press and will be published in 2018.

In 2014, I joined  Christos Lynteris' ERC project at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, to study the visual history of the Third Plague Pandemic (1890 to 1950) in North and South America. I focused on plague mapping, the history of medical photography, medical geography, and the plague-driven enforcement of bacteriological expertise in public health. From archival findings emerged an ongoing collaborative project with Christos Lynteris on Sulphuric Utopias. This forthcoming book concerns the technological history of fumigation and the political history of maritime sanitation at the turn of the twentieth century. 


With the Chancellor's Fellowship I work on the Long History of Digital Epidemiology. The project will illuminate historical developments in biomedicine and epidemiology that led to the emergence of an epidemiology based on data and models, rather than doctors’ diagnoses and the mere counting of cases. Over the next three years, my research will show that the practices of abstraction and formalization in the history of epidemiology have had decisive influence on today’s digital health landscape. To this end, I engage with three fields of inquiry: 

  • Epidemiological Visualization: Revisiting the role of diagrams, charts, tables and maps in the production of epidemiological knowledge to understand key elements in the dissemination of digital health data today. 
  • Epidemiological Data: Engaging with the social history of data to map how the epidemiological outbreak report was superseded by discrete data-sets, in order to understand the integration of non-medical data into the field (ecology, climate, lifestyle).
  • The Emergence of the Model Epidemic: Tracing the emergence of stochastic modelling to reconstruct the development and historical stabilization of epidemic standard-models. 

Recent Publications

Engelmann, Lukas. “In and out of Death’s Shadow; the History and Future of AIDS.” The Times Literary Supplement,  August 1,  2017. 

Engelmann, Lukas. “The Past and Present of Contested Medical Authority.” Science as Culture 26, no. 3 (July 3, 2017): 424–29. doi:10.1080/09505431.2017.1315931. (review)

Engelmann, Lukas. “Guenter B. Risse, Driven by Fear: Epidemics and Isolation in San Francisco’s House of Pestilence.” Social History of Medicine 30, no. 3 (August 1, 2017): 697–98. doi:10.1093/shm/hkx034. (review)

Engelmann, Lukas. “What Are Medical Photographs of Plague?” REMEDIA, January 31, 2017. 

Engelmann, Lukas. "The Devastation of Normalcy,"  Somatosphere, December 2, 2016 (review)

Branwyn Poleykett, Evans, Niccolas HA, and Engelmann, Lukas. “Fragments of Plague.” Limn, March 4, 2016

Selected Journal Articles
Engelmann, Lukas. “Photographing AIDS. Capturing AIDS in Pictures of People with AIDS.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 90, no. 2 (2016).

Engelmann, Lukas, and Janina Kehr. “Double Trouble? Towards an Epistemology of Co-Infection.” Medicine Anthropology Theory 2 (2015): 1–31.

Topics interested in supervising

- History and Sociology of Biomedicine - History of Epidemics and Epidemiology - Social and cultural dimensions of Plague, AIDS, Zika, AMR and Covid-19 - History of Sexuality - Medicine and Theory

If you are interested in being supervised by Lukas Engelmann, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Sociology and Anthropology of Health and Illness