Dr Ayesha Nathoo

Email: a.nathoo@exeter.ac.uk

Homepage: humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/staff/nathoo/

I am a cultural historian of modern medicine, currently exploring the growth of therapeutic forms of relaxation in Britain from the interwar period until present day.

I am interested in the ways in which practices of relaxation have acquired therapeutic value through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, particularly in relation to chronic-disease prevention, pain management and stress reduction. Through events and collaborations within the Hub, and drawing on resources from the Wellcome Collection and Library, I aim to highlight and investigate the changing material culture of relaxation: the instruments used to display, measure and define states of rest and relaxation such as bio-feedback machines; and the printed and audio-visual material used to teach relaxation techniques such as yoga television programmes, ‘self-help’ and meditation books, cassettes, CDs and apps. Alongside Hub collaborators from a wide range of disciplines, and through engaging with visitors to the Hub, I hope to develop and contribute a broader historical perspective that will shed light on our changing notions of relaxation: what it is; how we know if we have achieved it; methods by which it is learnt and practiced; whether different techniques produce similar effects; and why it has been deemed increasingly important for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.