Clare Griffin

Assistant Professor, Department of History

Assistant Professor, Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a neuroatypical historian, fiction writer, and mental health advocate originally from the UK, but my work has taken me to Russia, Germany, and Kazakhstan. My academic research focuses on science, medicine, and expertise in the early modern Russian Empire, in particular how those processes intersected with colonialism and globalisation. I explore those topics in my first book Mixing Medicines, forthcoming with McGill-Queens in Fall 2022, which demonstrates how the seventeenth-century Russian court utilised its deep pockets and global connections to bring medical ingredients from across the early modern world to Moscow, only to then edit imported medical practices to suit Muscovite tastes. Alongside my academic work, I also publish fiction and advocacy pieces focused on my experiences of neurodiversity and mental illness. That work has helped shape my second book project, on wounds and global conflict. When early modern Russian soldiers were injured in service to the Tsar they were examined as part of a medico-bureaucratic knowledge-gathering process that was always more about the functioning of the Empire than the suffering of the individual. This project combines early modern medical and military records with scholarship on disability and the history of pain to reconsider how Empires used bodies as a part of their global ambitions.

Learn more about me and my work here:



Academic Publications

  • Mixing Medicines: The Global Drug Trade and Early Modern Russia. (forthcoming with McGill-Queens University Press, September 2022).
  • ‘Immateriality and Intermateriality: The Vanishing Centrality of Apothecary Wares in Seventeenth-Century Russian Medicine,’ The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Faberge, 1600-present edited by Alison Smith, Tricia Starks and Matthew P. Romaniello (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021), 17-32. Volume shortlisted for the The Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year 2021.
  • Co-editor, ‘The Natural Turn in Early Modern Russian History’, ВИВЛIОθИКА: E-Journal of Eighteenth-Century Russian Studies, 6 (2018).
  • ‘Disentangling Commodity Histories: Pauame and Sassafras in the Early Modern Global World,’ Journal of Global History, 15.1 (March 2020): 1-18.
  • 'Every Court an Island? Palace Medicine, International Exchanges, and Popular Practices in Early Modern Russia,' Medizinhistorisches Journal 53.3-4 (2018): 309-330. Link.
  • ‘Bureaucracy and Knowledge Creation: The Apothecary Chancery’, Information and Empire: Mechanisms of Communication in Russia, 1600-1850, edited by Simon Franklin and Katherine Bowers (Open Book Publishers, 2017), 255-286.
  • ‘Russia and the Medical Drug Trade in the Seventeenth Century’, Social History of Medicine, 31.1 (2018): 2–23.
  • 'In Search of an Audience: Popular Pharmacies and the Limits of Literate Medicine in Late Seventeenth- and Early Eighteenth-Century Russia', Bulletin for the History of Medicine, 89 (2015): 705–732.

Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction

Mental Health Advocacy