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Practical matters How to find us prof. dr. H.G. (Rina) Knoeff

Research interests


My research has centred on three themes:

1. The (premodern) history of healthy ageing. This line of research combines history of medicine with medical humanities and is also directed at making history of medicine relevant to non-academic audiences, for instance in curating the exhibition Gelukkig Gezond! Histories of Healthy Ageing (Groningen University Museum, 2017). This line of argument also motivates my work as coordinator of 'Concepts and Cultures of Health' in the Aletta Jacobs School for Public Health. The relevance of history in today's health crises was also at the root of a recent call in NRC for the involvement of historians in tackling wicked problems, like Covid-19  ('Historici moeten ook meedenken, juist nu').

2. The chemistry and medicine of Dutch medical teacher Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738) and the Dutch Boerhaave school. From 2012 until 2017 I led a NWO research project (funded by a NWO vidi grant) on the introduction of a specific Boerhaavian 'vitalism' in Dutch Enlightenenment thought. 

3. The history of anatomy and anatomical collections. From 2008 until 2012 I was leader of a research project (also funded by NWO) on the historical anatomical collections of Leiden Univerisity.


I authored Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738): Calvinist Chemist and Physician (Amsterdam: Edita, 2002) and edited The Fate of Anatomical Collections (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015) as well as Lifestule and Medicine in the Enlightenment. The Six Non-Naturals in the Long Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge, 2020). 


My articles have appeared in Ambix, Journal for the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Gewina, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Medizinhistorisches Jounal and Nature, among others. I have also contributed chapters to books published by Ashgate, Routledge, Cambridge University Press, Springer, and Brill.


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The Fate of Anatomical Collections

Lifestyle and Medicine in the Enlightenment: The Six Non-Naturals in the Long Eighteenth Century

Pas toe & doe mee! ‘Applied history’ in theorie en praktijk

De Chemist. De Geschiedenis van een verdwenen beroepsgroep, 1600-1800

De eendenbekparadox. Het vaginaspeculum en de medicalisering van de menopauze

'De vrouw. Haar bouw en haar inwendige organen' - Aletta Jacobs' emancipatoire anatomie

Een kwestie van identiteit: Portret van Petrus Camper

Policymaking without history is blind: A plea for a fruitful conversation between academic historians and policymakers

Rariteiten, aanmerkingen en het gemenebest van geneesheren

Breathscapes: Natural Environments in Eighteenth-Century Psychosomatics of Breathing

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Oorsprong van de gynaecologische eendenbek

'Studying is for ugly girls' op muurschildering Aletta Jacobs is de uni onwaardig

De lessen van deze pandemie, voor de volgende pandemie

In 2022 móeten we met corona leren leven

Hoe houden we de samenleving bij elkaar


A body donated for science was dissected for a public audience

Polarisatie tussen gevaccineerden en ongevaccineerden gevaarlijk

Welke rol speelt de pandemie bij het toenemende geweld in de samenleving?

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