‘Entangled Histories: The foundation and early establishment of public health institutions in Britain and Europe around 1900’


Axel Huentelmann
(Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet)

In the decades around 1900 a variety of public health and bacterio­logical research institutions had been founded all over the (West­ern) world: the Prussian Institute for Infectious Diseases, a net­work of (French) Pasteur Institutes, the Liverpool and London School of Tropical Medicine (and Hygiene), the Institute for Preventive Health¾to mention only few of these institutions of (inter)national importance. They were considered the leading institutions in the field of tropical and experimental medicine, of hygiene and public health. Apart from the fact that they had different research and working profiles focussing on tropical medicine, infectious dis­eases, and public health, they also shared common ideas and pursued similar working tasks. In most of these institutions basic research was conducted to control diseases and the overall aim was preven­tative health care and the improvement of public health. At (inter-)national level they cooperated and competed with each other at the same time. And the foundation and early history of these institu­tions was closely related and showed several parallels, thus provid­ing an excellent opportunity for an entangled history.

In the presentation I will focus on the British Institutes and their relations to their continental counterparts. At institutional level I will sketch the socio-cultural and political background leading to their foundation, analyse their financial and institutional consti­tution, and I will describe the research conducted there and the so­cial and political expectations involved as well as the implicit in­stitutional strategies during the first years of their establishment and expansion. In doing so, I am going to focus on questions like how national styles influenced their foundation, legitimation, and the establishment.

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Thursday, 27th February 2014, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: Bennett Room, Keppel Street Building