Universiteit Leiden

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Claire Weeda

University Lecturer

Dr. C.V. Weeda
+31 71 527 2718

Claire Weeda is a University Lecturer at the institute for History.

More information about Claire Weeda


Claire Weeda is a cultural historian whose main fields of interest include ethnic stereotyping, the history of the body, Greco-Arabic medicine, and organic politics in Europe, 1100-1500.

Her dissertation ‘Images of Ethnicity in Later Medieval Europe’ (Keetje Hodshon Award 2015, KHMW), examined the fundamental shift in thinking about ethnic character from the twelfth century in northern Europe. In the burgeoning educational and courtly centres, where standards of 'civilized'​ behaviour were being set, ideas about ethnicity became ensconced in medical humoral theory. From an introspective religious-ethical tool used to ruminate the sins of mankind in light of eschatological expectations, notions about ethnicity thus gradually were embodied within a religious-medical discourse factoring in environmental influences. Shifting from Christian imperialism to colonialism, western Europe was now presented as a civilized, forward-looking region, whereas southwest-Asia was a place of the past.  

Her current research, as part of the ERC research project ‘Healthscaping Urban Europe: Biopower, Space and Society’, focuses the development and spread of medical knowledge in urban centres from 1100-1500. In particular, she is looking at how Galenic theory informed and spread via pre-university educational systems, oral interactions and embodied practices. She is analysing how Galenism changed people’s perception of themselves, others and their environments on biological, cultural and religious grounds and how this accordingly resulted in new regulations.   

Teaching activities

Teaching experience includes introductory courses on medieval history and analysis of source materials, as well thematic courses, including:

'Imagining the Medieval Nation', on ethnic identity, racism, and concepts of nature and culture in the Late Middle Ages

'The Latin Middle Ages', on medieval Latin literature and its cultural context, translating primary sources;

'Ethnic Stereotyping in the Middle Ages', on the function of ethnic stereotypes in later Medieval Europe;

'Nudity', on the meaning of nudity in social and religious context from antiquity to modernity;

'Ideals and Utopias', reading primary sources on ideal behaviour and communities from antiquity to the Renaissance;

'Laughter in the Dark', a cultural study of humour in the late Middle Ages;

'Spies and Diplomats in the Mediterranean World', on gift exchange, marriage diplomacy and ceremonies in Byzantium;

'Debating the Persecuting Society', discussing whether Europe became a persecuting society in the late middle ages;

'New Horizons', a course on explorers and missionary activities in the Baltic region and the East.

'Urban Bodies', on medical concepts and practices in urban communities 

University Lecturer

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 1.77b



  • Fonds voor de letteren Adviseur literaire non-fictie
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