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February Newsletter

Posted by C3W Admin on February 29 2024

We have gathered together the latest news and events, together with some content not available on the website and put it into a Newsletter, see below.

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Zora Neale Hurston, Cheryl A. Wall (1997). “Sweat”, p.43, Rutgers University Press


Welcome to the February edition of our newsletter, where you will find the latest research findings, activities and events.

This edition has
  • Dates for your diary, we have an exciting seminar series to tell you about
I’ve been made aware that the links in the newsletter are on a timer which makes them useless after a while, so I have added the text for the link below the article, so you can still find out more.


Edna Suárez-Díaz together with Adrian Currie (U. of Exeter)  have become co-editor-in-chief of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, a prestigious journal in the field:

They are taking over for the next 5 years (2024-2028), after Sabina Leonelli (also at Exeter) and Giovanni Boniolo conducted the journal in the last years. The journal is published by Springer and it has a long-time relationship with the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Napoli, Italy, a place historically linked to the life sciences.

They had a meeting with the previous editorial board, where they shared their experiences, willingness to keep collaborations and their good wishes for the new team.

Here are a couple of sites for Adrian


Lu Chen has been awarded a residential fellowship by the Brocher Foundation ( to stay in Geneva for 3 months in early 2025 to write her book From Absence to Influence: The WHO and China in Global Health.

The Brocher Foundation is a multidisciplinary reflection centre dedicated to the study of the impact of medical development on society. It is a multidisciplinary thinking centre. To this aim, it welcomes experts to discuss the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of medical development and health policies.

From Absence to Influence: The WHO and China in Global Health presents a historical analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the WHO, from its disconnection and absence to the reconciliation, resistance, and selective engagement in the latter half of the twentieth century. Situating itself within the broader historical context of the Cold War in the 1950s to the 1970s and the rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s to the 1990s provides a nuanced understanding of the geopolitics and political economy that shaped the relationship between Beijing and Geneva. Through an exploration of initiatives such as the Smallpox Eradication Programme (SEP) and the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), the book explores the legal, social, political, economic, and emotional dimensions that impacted the delivery of international and global health programmes

Dora Vargha’s and Lukas Engelmann’s proposal A Socialist Epidemiology? The Political Legacy of a Science for Public Health has been accepted by the Brocher Foundation. Dora and Lukas will be organising a workshop to be held in Geneva in 2025.

Socialist epidemiology refers to the application of socialist principles and ideologies to the field of epidemiology, which in turn is tasked with the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related events and conditions in society.  While it remains an open question if socialist epidemiology has indeed ever existed as distinct scientific practice, it has been widely presumed to constitute an ideologically shaped enterprise to advance politics in the name of a science for public health. This project will be the first to reconstruct the history of socialist epidemiology, bringing together a range of interdisciplinary experts for a workshop and to establish a research network that joins questions about the legacy of socialist global health with the sprawling history of epidemiology between science and politics. 

Presentations by the Project Team

Sarah Marks took part in the Wellcome Trust’s field building events including the ‘Mental Health Science: A Field Fit for Purpose’ workshop, where she hosted a pop-up exhibition on how ideas about the causes of mental ill health have changed over time and across different regions. She also met with their Mental Health Lived Experience Advisors who attended from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe to understand their priorities, and discuss how historians could become allies with lived experience experts in shaping mental health research. 
Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie with Czechoslovak doctors at the Harar Hospital in Ethiopia, Source: ‘In the land of the king of kings’ [V zemi krále králů] by Josef Šebesta and Miroslav Hladký (Prague, 1971

In February 2024 Sarah Marks travelled to the University of Copenhagen to offer a commentary at the launch of Anna Toropova and Claire Shaw’s new edited book Technologies of Mind and Body in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. She also presented a paper at the Centre for Culture and the Mind  about ongoing research that she has been developing with Sarah Howard on ‘Psychiatric Encounters Between Czechoslovakia and Ethiopia During and After Communism’


Dates for your Diary

Please register for this event on Eventbrite


Dora Vargha will be giving her Inaugural Lecture on March 11 at 16:00 in Exeter, titled Socialist International Health from Below: Hungarian Medical Missions to North Korea 1950-1957

With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, socialist countries sent medical missions to support the North Korean side in a unique moment of socialist international health, which united the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe in medical assistance. This venture laid foundations for further cooperation for the countries that found themselves outside of the  liberal international order. Through the everyday life of the field hospital and medical missions, I explore intersections between political ideology, humanitarianism and medicine, and the making of a new socialist world.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

Monday March 11 16:15-17:15 GMT
University of Exeter, Queens Building LT1
Eventbrite registration link


Dora Vargha is presenting Social or socialist? Ideas of health, society and biomedicine across the Iron Curtain at the Science Studies Colloquium at ETH Zurich on March 20.


Please register for this event on Eventbrite



Liang Wan, Simon Huxtable (in photo at Birkbeck) and Sarah Marks have been collaborating on research into the exchanges between China, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in relation to acupuncture and the reception of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Communist Europe from the 1950s to the 1990s. Liang and Simon have conducted research trips to China and Latvia respectively, to gather Chinese and Russian-language literature, and Sarah is currently in Prague examining Czech, Slovak and Russian materials at the Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Czech Academy of Sciences and the National Library of the Czech Republic. In the Spring they will meet for a further writing day to translate these findings into research articles for publication.

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