‘Headwinds through the Iron Curtain: fundamental and applied sciences in Communist Eastern Europe’ at ICHSTM Manchester 2013

Billed as the biggest ever History of Science conference ever to have taken place (complete with day trips to Jodrell Bank and HistSci themed real ale), with an estimated 1700 delegates, the International Conference in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine took place at Manchester University over seven days in July 2013.

Among the many sessions was a full-day panel on the sciences in Communist Eastern Europe, encompassing themes from Soviet physics to debates over plant genetics. Three papers addressed medicine in the region, showcasing the work of early career researchers in the field.

Luciana Jinga of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile spoke on the legacy of the Ceausescu’s pro-natalist policies, arguing that the instrumentalisation of the medical system for political demographic concerns resulted in higher rates of maternal and infant mortality in the long-term.

Corina Dobos (UCL), also writing on Romania, examined the Pavlovisation of medicine in the early years of the Communist regime, showing how well-established doctors from the inter-war period reframed their previous work in Pavlovian terms in order to secure resources and career security.

Finally, Bradley Moore (University of Wisconsin) spoke on the complex dynamics of the establishment of public health care in Communist Czechoslovakia, where hygienists were able to ‘augment’ their interests in environmental and social health care within a new dialectical-materialist based healthcare system, resulting in a hybrid medical system which drew on both Soviet and Western concepts.

We look forward to upcoming publications by all three panellists, and will feature them on the CEEHM blog in future…

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  1. Pingback: Barn doors and banjos | Books not computers

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