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Dora Vargha

posts .icon { width: 20px; height: 20px; float: right; position: absolute; right: 30px; bottom: 30px; }Dora Vargha

I am a historian of medicine, science and technology, with expertise in the history of epidemics, the politics of health, and Cold War history. I am Professor of History and Medical Humanities based jointly at the University of Exeter, UK and Humboldt University, Berlin.

My work focuses on questions of global health and biomedical research in the Cold War era, using the locality of Eastern Europe as a starting point. My research is informed by gender history, history of childhood and disability history, and is in conversation with medical anthropology, sociological approaches and political science. I received my PhD in History from Rutgers University and before joining Exeter I was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and a postdoctoral fellow at Birkbeck, University of London.

My interest spans from the politics of epidemic management to public health systems and access to therapeutics. My book, Polio Across the Iron Curtain: Hungary’s Cold War with an Epidemic was published open access in 2018 with Cambridge University Press. I have written on the global infrastructure of diphtheria antitoxin, the politics of vaccination in Eastern Europe, hospital care of disabled children in communist contexts and about shifting epidemic narratives in historical analysis.

My work has been awarded the 2020 Medical Humanities Award for Best International Research by the AHRC and Wellcome Trust, the 2019 Book Prize of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health, the J. Worth Estes Prize by the American Association for the History of Medicine in 2016, and the Young Scholar Book Prize by the International Committee for the History of Technology in 2014. I was co-editor of the journal of Social History of Medicine between 2016-2021, I’m a member of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter, and of the Centre for the Study of Internationalism at Birkbeck, University of London.

Select publications

Polio Across the Iron Curtain: Hungary’s Cold War with an Epidemic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Global Health Histories Series, 2018. Open Access.

“Technical Assistance and Socialist International Health: Hungary, the WHO, and the Korean War” History and Technology Vol 36 no. 3-4, 2020. 400-417.

“The Socialist World in Global Polio Eradication”. Revue d-Études Comparatives Est-Ouest (RECEO), Vol 49, No.1, 2018

“Socialist Utopia in Practice: Everyday Life and Medical Authority in a Hungarian Polio Hospital. Social History of Medicine, Volume 31, Issue 2, 1 May 2018

“Between East and West: Polio Vaccination Across the Iron Curtain in Cold War Hungary” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 88, no. 2., Summer 2014