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Captain Cook and the Dawn of Pacific Dermatology
Friday, March 01
7:15 AM - 8:45 AM
Scott A. Norton, MD, MPH, FAAD - Handout
Following this course, the attendee should be able to:
- Recognize the role of observations of the skin and skin diseases in the scientific exploration of the Pacific.
- Describe the skin diseases present in indigenous populations at the time of first contact with the West.
- Compare 18th century notions of disease causation with current biomedical beliefs.
In the mid-18th century, the peoples and islands of the Pacific Basin were largely unknown to Western explorers and scientists. European explorers, exemplified by English navigator Captain James Cook, launched voyages of geographic, scientific, and anthropologic discovery. Observations of diseases and cultural practices of the indigenous populations of Polynesia/Melanesia/Micronesia/Australia at first contact often focused on conditions that involve the skin and practices that modify the skin. Logbooks and journals from these voyages reveal rich details on cutaneous diseases, health, customs, and beliefs of non-Western peoples, seen through the eyes of the most learned members of European culture.