History of Global Health and Disease
The Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine
The Center for the History of Global Heath and Disease is located in the Institute of the History of Medicine and draws on the academic resources of the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, and the Arts and Sciences to explore two main areas of interest:
The historical study of disease transitions encourages the use of historical and epidemiological perspectives and methods to understand the changing incidence and prevalence of disease in diverse settings across the globe. Our critical historical approach is predicated on the understanding that the presence or absence of disease, as well as shifts in the nature of the diseases that affect human communities, is dependent on a complex range of social, cultural, political, and economic circumstances that are temporally and spatially contingent. The Center is also interested in how diseases impact society and in examining changes in the social and cultural meanings of disease over time and space.
The comparative and transnational history of disease control explores and evaluates past attempts to prevent, contain, and control the burden of disease in a comparative global framework. Understanding the history and implementation of disease controls — quarantine, immunization, surveillance, DDT, to name but a few — requires the careful reconstruction of past knowledge about disease environments, disease biology, individual and group susceptibility, medicine and medical technologies. Each of these varies through time and space, and is situated in national and international political and socio-economic systems that determine the adoption of a particular strategy or strategies. The Center is also interested in the transnational flow of ideas regarding disease control; how they are generated and disseminated as well as how they may be reshaped, resisted, or appropriated within different local contexts.