Conference "Comparative Guts"

This international conference launches the digital exhibition Comparative Guts, and focuses on the representation of human innards (especially those involved in digestion and nutrition, what English refers to as ‘guts’) in a variety of world contexts, genres, traditions media and historical periods, from the Neolithic to the contemporary world. It aims to avoid the implicit framework of Eurocentrism by bringing together body representations from different regions, times and layers of human cultural production, emphasizing their irreducible variety and refusing to rank disciplines or contexts.

Sensual experience, learned anatomy, religious feelings, medical practices, emotions, political sentiments, decorative intentions, ‘art’: each of these testifies to human reflections about our ‘embodied’ life, and each is valid in its own terms. ‘Comparative Guts’ accordingly explores the approaches of visual methods and image interpretation by foregrounding the potential of images to mediate anthropological information – with ‘image’ meaning not only the visually, optically perceived, but also mental images accessed through proprioceptive feelings, projection, auditory and olfactory stimulation.

This topic offers an ideal opportunity to address blind and visually impaired audiences. A special workshop will take place on Friday 9 June, offering an olfactory experience, a tactile experience, a presentation by photographer (and blind person) Silja Korn and a guided tour through a selection of images presented by art historians Michaela Wilk and Almust Rix, designed especially for a blind audience.

The Conference is an activity of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, Subcluster Knowledge, and generously supported by the China Zentrum and the Diversitätsfonds der CAU.


Wednesday, 07.06.2023



Session Chair: Chiara Thumiger, Angelika Messner,
Christoph Geiger, Andreas Schwab


Marta Hanson (Independent Scholar, MPIWG Affiliate):
An example of 17th-century Sino-European cross-cultural medical history

Birgitte Sonne, Ulla Odgaard (University of Copenhagen)
Greenland Tupilak Figures


Coffee Break


Ignacio Sánchez (University of Warwick)
Arabic Materials

Tawni Tidwell (University of Wisconsin)
Tibetan medicine (8th to 17th century)

Katharina Sabernig (University of Applied Arts, Vienna)
Tibetan medicine (8th to 17th century) with contemporary knitted artwork interpretations (early 20th to 21st century)





Gideon Manning (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles)
Birth of modern anatomo-pathology

Dmitry Ezrohi (ATLOMY Project,HUJI)
Digital imaging and history of medicine

Chiara Thumiger (Kiel University and HU Berlin)
Greco-Roman medical cultures


Marco Vespa (ATLOMY Project, HUJI)
The ancient stomachion, a Graeco-Roman gut-game

Claire Bubb (NYU)
Medieval medical sources in Latin



Thursday, 08.06.2023


Thomas Cousins (School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford) (on ZOOM)

Charlotte Damm (Artic University of Norway) (on Zoom)
Hunter-fishers of Norway


Coffee Break


Jane Draycott (University of Glasgow) (on Zoom)
Roman-etruscan materials

Jason Birch (SOAS University of London) (on Zoom)
Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine in South Asia

Vivienne Lo (UCL History) (on Zoom)




Brooke Holmes (Princeton University) (on Zoom)
Contemporary Guts

Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge) (on Zoom)
Greco-Roman antiquity

Liv Green, Louise Bjerre (University of Copenhagen) (on Zoom)
Maya, Aztech and their predecessors


Coffee Break


Che-Chia Chang (Academia Sinica, Taipeh)
China and Japan in the Modern Period


Friday, 09.06.2023


Natalie Köhle (University of Sydney)
Anatomical images in Northern Song China

Yi-Li Wu (University of Michigan)
Ming-Qing illustrations of the organs, 1500-1850



Coffee Break



Rodo Pfister (RIHAELS, Basel)
The Body Maps of Master Yan Luo

James Flowers (Kyung Hee University)
Images of the digestive organs in Korea



Immediately following is the workshop"The felt body: A multisensory approach for and with a visually-impaired public"

Das Kreislaufsystem: Sektion des Abdomens mit dem Dickdarm, wobei die Arterien und Venen in Rot und Blau dargestellt sind.

Kolorierte Lithographie von J. Maclise, 1841/1844, die das Kreislaufsystem und einen Teil der inneren Organe des Menschen darstellt.

Everyone welcome – but please register in advance

For information, and to participate please contact

Dr. Chiara Thumiger
Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Über den Exzellenzcluster ROOTS

Der Exzellenzcluster ROOTS – Konnektivität von Gesellschaft, Umwelt und Kultur in vergangenen Welten – an der Christian-Albrecht-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) untersucht seit 2019 die Wurzeln sozialer, umweltbedingter und kultureller Phänomene und Prozesse, die die menschliche Entwicklung nachhaltig prägen. Dafür erforschen Wissenschaftler und Wissenschaftlerinnen aus Geistes- Sozial-, Natur- und Lebenswissenschaften in einem interdisziplinären Ansatz archäologische und historische „Laboratorien“ unter der Annahme, dass Menschen und ihre Umwelt sich gegenseitig geprägt haben und dabei soziale und umweltrelevante Konnektivitäten geschaffen haben, die bis heute existieren.

Mehr unter