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Conference “Connecting three worlds: health & socialism in the Cold War” was held in Berlin 14-16 June 2023

Posted by C3W Admin on July 6 2023

Lu Chen

A ground-breaking conference organized by the Wellcome Trust funded project “Connecting three worlds: socialism, medicine and global health after WW2” concluded 16 June 2023. It shed new light on the history of global health and the influence of socialism on healthcare systems. The conference brought together nearly 20 scholars from various regions of the world to discuss the particular health cultures produced by socialism and its impact on medicine, public health, and biomedicine.

The conference was kicked off with a keynote speech “Humanitarianism, Otherwise: Cuban (Health) Care as Political Praxis” by Sean Brotherton. The public event was held on 14 June at Staatsbibliothek, Simon Bolivar Saal in Berlin. With full-house audiences, Sean shared his recent research on the absent-presence of Cuba’s international solidarity humanitarian efforts as a non-event in the contemporary global health landscape.

The six panels of the conference were held in Harnack-Haus of the Max Planck Society in Dahlem, Berlin from 15 to 16 June.


Throughout the conference, scholars presented highly localized experiences from different regions of the world while emphasizing the international nature of socialist networks and values. One of the key questions explored during the conference was how socialist values and policies were incorporated into local healthcare projects by various individuals and groups such as social democrats, socialist planners, communist physicians, and left-wing activists.


The conference also examined how socialist networks, practices, and institutions challenged conventional notions of national and international histories of health. By considering the medical related interactions rising through the international conflicts and tensions related to class, ethnicity, and nationalism, the participants explored the complexities of socialist health on a global scale.


The conference provided a platform for scholars to exchange knowledge, challenge existing narratives, and uncover unexpected connections within socialist health practices. As the conference concluded, the more inclusive approach to the history of global health will pave the way for further research and a more nuanced understanding of the impact of socialism on healthcare worldwide.


This conference will provide the basis for one of the ground-breaking results of our project, an edited volume by a prestigious academic publisher which, we believe, will contribute to a more inclusive history of global health after WW2.

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