Health, Healing, and the Social Body in Medieval Iceland

Christopher Crocker, Yoav Tirosh

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter concerns matters of health and healing in medieval Iceland, drawing particularly on the corpus of texts known as the Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Early Icelanders). In light of the harmful stigma often arising from perceptions of poor health and/or disability, this chapter first elaborates on the appropriateness of adopting a disability studies approach to this subject. Following this, it discusses how the Íslendingasögur show an awareness of both practical and theoretical understandings of the body and are concerned with how this knowledge was applied, as well as who had access to this knowledge and practice. Bodies or minds in the sagas perceived to be unhealthy, and consequently also their healthy counterparts, are understood and depicted not only as physiological phenomena but also as reflections of a variety of socio-cultural factors. The importance of healing and maintaining a healthy body takes on a social aspect and plays a crucial role in the formation (and dissolution) of a variety of interpersonal relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Disability throughout History : Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Iceland from Settlement to 1936
Number of pages15
PublisherTaylor and Francis Group
Publication date1 Jan 2021
ISBN (Print)9781032018270
ISBN (Electronic)9781000486674
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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