Janna Coomans, "Community, Urban Health and Environment in the Late Medieval Low Countries" (Cambridge UP, 2021)


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By exploring the uniquely dense urban network of the Low Countries, Janna Coomans debunks the myth of medieval cities as apathetic towards filth and disease. Based on new archival research and adopting a bio-political and spatial-material approach, Coomans traces how cities developed a broad range of practices to protect themselves and fight disease. Urban societies negotiated challenges to their collective health in the face of social, political and environmental change, transforming ideas on civic duties and the common good. Tasks were divided among different groups, including town governments, neighbours and guilds, and affected a wide range of areas, from water, fire and food, to pigs, prostitutes and plague. In Community, Urban Health and Environment in the Late Medieval Low Countries (Cambridge UP, 2021), Coomans offers new comparative insights and bolsters our understanding of the importance of population health and the physical world - infrastructures, flora and fauna - in governing medieval cities.

Mohamed Gamal-Eldin is a historian of Modern Egypt, who is interested in questions related to the built environment, urban history, architecture, social history and environmental ecology of urban centers in 19th and early 20th century Egypt, the Middle East and globally.

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