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From the Midwife’s Bag to the Patient’s File

Public Health in Eastern Europe

CEU Press Studies In the History of Medicine

Edited by Sara Bernasconi, Heike Karge, Friederike Kind-Kovács

Heike Karge, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Southeast and East European History, Regensburg University, Germany

Friederike Kind-Kovács, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Southeast and East European History, Regensburg University, Germany

Sara Bernasconi, Ph. D. Student, Zurich University, Switzerland

This volume offers an analysis of the intertwined relationship between public health and the biopolitical dimensions of state- and nation building in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It challenges the idea of diverging paths towards modernity of Europe’s western and eastern countries by not only identifying ideas, discourses and practices of “solving” public health issues that were shared among political regimes in the region; it also uncovers the ways in which, since the late nineteenth century, the biopolitical organization of the state both originated from and shaped an emerging common European framework.

The broad range of local case studies stretches from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, Greece, and Hungary, to Poland, Serbia, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Taking a time span that begins in the late nineteenth century and ends in the post-socialist era, the book makes an original contribution to scholarship examining the relationship between public health, medicine, and state- and nation building in Europe’s long twentieth century. Close readings and dense descriptions of local discourses and practices of “public” health help to reflect on the transnational and global entanglements in the sphere of public health. In doing so, this volume facilitates comparisons on the regional, European, and global level.

370 pages, 20 photos
978-963-386-208-7 cloth
$70.00 / €62.00 / £54.00

ISSN 2079-1119 CEU Press studies in the history of medicine

Table of Contents:

Table of Figures:


Heike Karge, Friederike Kind-Kovács, and Sara Bernasconi: Introduction: From the Midwife’s Bag to the Patient’s File: Public Health in Eastern and Southeastern Europe

Part I: (Medical) Agents and Modern State Building

Chapter I: Maria Zarifi: Moving Backward Toward Modernity: The Role of the Medical Council in the Organization of Public Health in Greece, 1834–1924

Chapter II: Angelika Strobel: Creating the “Railway Population”: Public Health and Statistics in Late Imperial Russia

Chapter III: Justyna A. Turkowska: Mastering Troubling Borders: The Ambivalence of Medical Modernization in the Prussian Province of Posen

Chapter IV: Sara Bernasconi: The Material Side of Modernity: The Midwife’s Bag in Bosnia and Herzegovina around the Turn of the Century

PART II: Health after Europe’s World War

Chapter V: Katrin Steffen: Who Belongs to the Healthy Body of the Nation? Health and National Integration in Poland and the Polish Army after the First World War

Chapter VI: Friederike Kind-Kovács: Transatlantic Humanitarianism: Jewish Child Relief in Budapest after the Great War

Chapter VII: Alexander Friedman: The Bodily Disabled as a Poster Boy–Veteran: War Invalids in the Soviet Union after the Second World War

Chapter VIII: Heike Karge: Afflicted Heroes: The Rise and Fall of Yugoslav War Neurosis after the Second World War

Part III: Regulating Societies after 1945: State-Socialist Policies and Legacies

Chapter IX: Fanny Le Bonhomme: Politics and Family Conflicts through the Psychiatric Lens: East Berlin’s Charité in the early GDR

Chapter X: Esther Wahlen: Turning Women into Alcoholics: The Politics of Alcohol in Late Socialist Czechoslovakia

Chapter XI: Eszter Varsa: “The Gypsy Population Is Constantly Growing”: Roma and the Politics of Reproduction in Cold War Hungary

Chapter XII: Andre Thiemann: Underimplementing the Law: Social Work, Bureaucratic Error, and the Politics of Distribution in Postsocialist Serbia

Collective Bibliography

List of Contributors: