Workshop (30th June and 1st July 2006):
Local transmutations of global phenomena: A historical reassessment of smallpox prevention, vaccination and the state
Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London Organisers: Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Anne Hardy & Jennifer Keelan
Focus of the meeting:
Since the 1980s, local investigations into the social history of smallpox vaccination campaigns have raised more questions that they have answered. How differing technologies involved in vaccination impacted on the nature and extent of resistance remain somewhat obscure. The commonly prevailing notion of vaccination as an idealised and uniform technology has created serious problems for scholars interested in the historical epidemiology, social history, and demographic impact of vaccination on smallpox. It is becoming increasingly clear that vaccination had uncertain efficacy and that the science and medical technology cannot be disentangled from a myriad of social, political, and cultural factors. Vaccination technology and science were less transferred from country to country than they were re-created and adapted in diverse ways throughout the world. Still, fundamental questions regarding the efficacy and diffusion of different vaccine technologies remain unanswered. We propose a two-day inter-disciplinary workshop, whose participants have — and will — contribute to a growing body of literature on the history of smallpox and vaccination. We hope to revisit and perhaps reconcile the historical accounts of the specific nature of smallpox vaccination technologies and re-examine the diverse professional and public accounts of its efficacy. The mutable nature of smallpox, the diverse technologies used in its control and eradication, the complex interactions between the biological realities of the disease, the technologies employed, and the political formations that directed their implementation in the field will all be made the focus of detailed investigation; the conference, which will have speakers from all over the world, will have a global perspective, so that these important issues can compared and contrasted more effectively (we have managed to identify and invite scholars working on a range of themes and political/social/medical contexts).
PLEASE NOTE: LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE FOR THIS MEETING. TO REGISTER, PLEASE CONTACT DR. SANJOY BHATTACHARYA ([email protected]) BY THE 28th OF JUNE 2006.