CFP: After the End of Disease

London, May 26-27, 2016

Public and academic discussions on the end of diseases are abundant in the midst of recent epidemic crises. Faltering vaccination rates have seen old diseases, like measles and whooping cough resurface to epidemic proportions in the Global North. Several global epidemic crises, such as the swine flu and ebola, have prompted international organizations, local governments, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions and individuals to respond in manifold ways with the aim of controlling and eventually ending epidemic diseases. Ending diseases for good have been the goal of several eradication campaigns over the 20th century and are the focus of global projects such as the polio eradication initiative, spearheaded by the a public-private partnership including the WHO, the CDC, UNICEF, the Rotary and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In his now classic article ‘What is an epidemic?’, Charles Rosenberg pointed out that epidemics as social phenomena work with a particular dramaturgic form of increasing tension, crisis and eventual closure. Scholarly analysis, historical or contemporary, has tended to follow this narrative, focusing on prevention, outbreaks, epidemic crises, upheaval, and the end of disease. What happens after the end is more often than not left to epilogues, or addressed only in relation to a new, emerging disease on the cusp of crisis. Yet, diseases are often imprinted on the bodies of survivors, societies and cultures. Epidemics may change economic structures, social interaction, shape practices of international intervention and attitudes towards healthcare. In some cases, the proclaimed end of a disease leaves individuals or whole societies and states without resources previously guaranteed by the perceived epidemic threat. In others, the action of looking back after the end creates space for making moral judgements on individuals, societies, governments and international organizations.

This conference brings together historians of medicine and global public health, anthropologists and sociologists with policy makers to think past the conventional narrative curve of epidemics and disease in general. Proposals that address one or several of the following questions are particularly welcome:

  • How do states, societies and international organizations prepare for the end of a disease? Do they prepare at all?
  • What happens to the disease itself after the end?
  • What are the lasting consequences of epidemic diseases that linger on after the end?
  • What happens when a disease makes a comeback?
  • Who and when decides if a disease is over? Where and for whom do diseases end and who is excluded/forgotten?
  • How does the action of determining the “end” of an epidemic (e.g. ebola, polio, etc.) affect those involved: those who fear, those who prepare, those who cure, those who survive?
  • What happens if the end of a disease fails to arrive?

Deadline to submit abstracts up to 300 words is December 1, 2015.

Please send abstracts and any queries to d.vargha@bbk.ac.uk

Contact details:

Dora Vargha

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of History, Classics and Archeology
Birkbeck, University of London
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Call for Abstracts for AAHM panel Socialism and Health: a Global Exchange of Ideas and Practices

We invite submissions for abstracts to join the panel titled Socialism and Health: Socialism and Health: a Global Exchange of Ideas and Practices for the upcoming meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM) to be held in Minneapolis, April 29-May 1, 2016. The aim of this panel is to track how ideas of public health, a cornerstone in how socialist states had defined themselves, circulated among socialist countries and welfare states, which practices and concepts were adopted as opposed to others, and how local solutions fed back to the overall idea of health in national contexts. In sum, we ask to what extent can we talk about a distinctly socialist public health? As Cuba’s role in the Ebola epidemic, British debates on the structure of the NHS or rhetoric on American healthcare reform suggest, these are pressing questions even today. Confirmed panelists Miriam Gross (University of Oklahoma) will be addressing Chinese, while Dora Vargha (Birkbeck College, University of London) will be analysing Hungarian perspectives in the 1950s.

Please submit an abstract of no longer than 350 words, along with name, title and institutional affiliation to Dora Vargha at d.vargha@bbk.ac.uk by September 25. Feel free to contact with any questions and queries.

CFP: Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care: Historical & Contemporary Perspectives

This two-day interdisciplinary conference will explore the shifting political, socio-economic, cultural and medical influences that have formed and perpetuated cultures of harm from the eighteenth century to the present day. We are particularly interested in the production of harmful practices – physical, sexual and psychological violence directed by one person or group against another – in therapeutic and caring environments, worldwide. These might include hospitals and infirmaries, psychiatric facilities, religious institutions, care homes, children’s homes and educational establishments, as well as infirmaries and medical spaces in prisons and correctional institutions, military barracks, camps and workhouses.

Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words together with a brief outline of your academic affiliation to trauma@mail.bbk.ac.uk by 20 September 2015.

Full details can be found at www.bbk.ac.uk/trauma/events

Call for Papers: The history of health and disease in Central and Eastern Europe since 1945

 Institute of National Remembrance and Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences invite you to participate in the international conference “The history of health and disease in Central and Eastern Europe since 1945”, which will take place in Warsaw, 14-15 October 2015.

The material destruction, difficult sanitary conditions, poverty, as well as infectious disease epidemics collecting a heavy toll are important phenomena, often overlooked in the historiography, describing the post-war reality of Eastern Europe.

A new political order, introduced in this part of the continent, also covers the issue of health care. Some of the basic questions to be discussed during the scheduled conference are: to what extent, however, was the theme of universal, free access to health care put into practice in the second half of the twentieth century, what problems were encountered while implementing the reforms of the health care system by the end of the 80s, and how they were perceived by ordinary people.

The history of health and disease constitutes a relatively new field of historical research and it focuses, inter alia, on issues such as health policy of the state (the idea of public health), living conditions, and public health awareness. Issues related to health and disease refer to the particularly delicate sphere between the private and the public life. Therefore, research on the historical circumstances refers to a number of significant problems both in the field of social policy as well as within the scope of everyday life and mentality.

How in the postwar period (but also before the war) the concepts of health, disease, cleanliness, and dirt were defined in the culturally diverse European societies, and to what extent they have undergone transformations in the second half of the twentieth century; what influenced the directions and pace / dynamics of cultural as well as awareness and mental changes, – these are additional questions and problems we would like to focus in the discussions planned.

Other issues to be discussed during the conference include:

  • Health policy of communist states
  • Sanitation and quality of life
  • Awareness and health education
  • The health status of the citizens of the people’s democracy countries
  • The health care institutions and their activities in practice
  • Excluded groups? War invalids, mentally ill, the disabled
  • Aging of the population
  • The phenomena of medicalization
  • Transformation of civilization and health issues
  • Occupational diseases, occupational medicine and OHS in socialist factories
  • Problems of in-patient and out-patient health care
  • Adaptation practices and health habits
  • The social position of doctors and medical / hospital staff
  • Patient and the total institution
  • Health – a public or a private sphere
  • Non-medical treatment

We are also open to other suggestions regarding the discussion of problems of the post-war history of health and disease in Eastern Europe. We invite both historians and cultural theorists, sociologists, anthropologists, and all researchers dealing in their work with issues falling within the framework of the planned program of the conference.

The conference will be held in Polish and English (with simultaneous translation). The organizers will cover the authors’ of the papers costs of stay (accommodation, meals) and the travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Please send the applications form to the address: european.healthhistory@gmail.com

The deadline is 30 April 2015.

Please enclose the abstract of the paper (up to 300 words in Polish or English), a short CV of the author and a fragment of one of the previous publications (articles). The organizing committee will make the selection and notify authors by the end of May 2015. We plan to publish the conference papers.

Society for the Social History of Medicine 2014 Conference

Disease, Health and the State

The Centre for Health, Medicine and Society: Past and Present, Oxford Brookes University and the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford

Call for Papers
Proposals that consider all topics relevant to the history of medicine broadly conceived are invited, but the 2014 committee encourages proposals for papers, sessions, and round-tables that examine, challenge, and refine the history of disease, health and the state. Suggested themes include local and global understandings of health, medicine, and governance; the consolidation, breakdown, or absence of state power in the midst of health and medical crises; and the experience of health and medical bureaucracies in the past.

Paper submissions should include a 250-word abstract and a short CV. Panel submissions should include three papers (each with a 250-word abstract and short CV), a chair, and a 100-word panel abstract. Round-table submissions should include the names of four participants (each with a short CV), a chair, and a 500-word abstract.

Call closes: 1 January 2014

Further details: www.sshm2014.org