The Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease, Durham University (UK) invites you to the following Research Seminar.

5.15pm, 21st October 2008, at Queen’s Campus, Wolfson Research Institute, Seminar Room.

Dr Sanjoy Bhattacharya (University College London) ‘The Local Bases of Global Smallpox Eradication: A Review of Historical Perspectives and Policy Insights’ Sponsored by the Northern Centre for the History of Medicine, Supported by the Wellcome Trust

Abstract: The global smallpox programme is generally presented as the brainchild of a handful of actors based in the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and the organization’s various regional offices. This article attempts to present a more complex description of the drive to eradicate smallpox. Based on the example of developments in India, which was a major focus of the campaign, Sanjoy Bhattacharya argues that it is important for historians and public health officials to recognise the varying roles played by a much wider range of participants. Highlighting the significance of the field officials, both Indian and international, the author seeks to show how bureaucrats and politicians working at different levels of administration and society were able to strengthen – but also sometimes weaken – important components of the programme. In this way, an effort is made to show how centrally dictated strategies, developed by in the WHO offices in Geneva and New Delhi, often in association with the Indian federal authorities, were reinterpreted by many actors and sometimes changed beyond recognition. Harmful in some contexts, it proved beneficial in others; this procedural flexibility was crucial to the successful working of search, containment and vaccination efforts in an enormous range of social, political and economic contexts. A recognition of these complexities does not detract from the value of smallpox eradication; instead, it underscores the enormity of the achievement, which many had considered an impossible mission.

The seminar will incorporate a reception for CHMD Postgraduates.

Contact Katherine Smith ([email protected]) for more information or visit

For directions, please visit our webpage at

_______________ Katherine Smith Administrator/Outreach Officer

Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease Wolfson Research Institute Durham University Queen’s Campus University Boulevard Thornaby Stockton on Tees TS17 6BH Tel: + 44 (0)191 3340700 Email: [email protected]