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Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945

Edited by Christian Promitzer, Sevasti Trubeta, and Marius Turda

Publication Year: 2011

This volume is a collection of chapters that deal with issues of health, hygiene and eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945, specifically, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania. Its major concern is to examine the transfer of medical ideas to society via local, national and international agencies and to show in how far developments in public health, preventive medicine, social hygiene, welfare, gender relations and eugenics followed a regional pattern. This volume provides insights into a region that has to date been marginal to scholarship of the social history of medicine.

Published by: Central European University Press

Series: CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine

Series Title Page

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Framing Issues of Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe

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pp. 1-24

In a programmatic text on “Health Politics” penned immediately after the end of the First World War, the pioneer of social medicine in interwar Yugoslavia, Andrija Štampar (1888–1958), identified the emergence of a “national and social renaissance,” which he insisted was “at the same time...

Part I: German Eugenic Paradigms

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Racial Expertise and German Eugenic Strategies for Southeastern Europe

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pp. 27-54

Until the 1980s eugenics was seen as historically marginal to mainstream German history. Race and reproduction were absent from discussions about the social consequences of Germany’s rapid industrialization and its disturbed international relations. Since then, eugenics and racial hygiene...

Part II: Hygiene and Health Politics

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Orientalizing Disease. Austro-Hungarian Policies of ‘Race,’ Gender and Hygiene in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1874–1914

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pp. 57-86

The Austro-Hungarian cavalry captain Alexander Spaits remarked in his 1907 book on the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina that, as compared to Croatians and Serbs, Bosnians had proven themselves spineless, since the middle ages its elites had been induced to convert to Islam. As Spaits explained it, only those lacking sufficient financial means remained with...

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Typhus, Turks, and Roma: Hygiene and Ethnic Difference in Bulgaria, 1912–1944

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pp. 87-126

In the spring of 1928, a local typhus epidemic broke out in Sofia—two people, among them a fiscal officer, died. At that time, typhus was one of the most dangerous infectious diseases, feared for its high mortality rate, with doctors putting their lives at risk in suppressing such epidemics. The appearance of this lethal disease (in the capital city of Bulgaria and, furthermore...

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Health Policy and Private Care: Malaria Sanitization in Early Twentieth Century Greece

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pp. 127-142

“Alongside tuberculosis, alcoholism and syphilis, many believe malaria to be one of the four wheels of the vehicle precipitating man towards degeneration.”1 Thus spoke Spyridon Livieratos, professor of medicine at the University of Athens, at a 1914 conference in Athens held to celebrate...

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Combating Infant Mortality in Bulgaria: Welfare Activities, National Propaganda, and the Establishment of Pediatrics, 1900–1940

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pp. 143-164

At the beginning of the twentieth century, infant mortality made its first appearance as a medical and social problem in Bulgarian medical periodicals. These tentative publications were not based upon systematic research but instead were isolated attempts to place this problem in a Bulgarian context...

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Politics, Modernization and Public Health in Greece: The Case of Occupational Health, 1900–1940

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pp. 165-192

The process of modernization undertaken by Greece in the early twentieth century, mainly by liberal governments, was prompted by fundamental transformations in economic and social life. At the time, these were perceived chiefly as “Europeanization” and concerned urban planning and education, the re-organization of public health and labor policy. In the field...

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“Like Yeast in Fermentation”: Public Health in Interwar Yugoslavia

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pp. 193-232

To explore public health in interwar Yugoslavia means, first, to consider the enthusiasm of the group of experts headed by Dr. Andrija Štampar (1888–1958) and their resultant ideas and achievements. It is a story of the recruitment of collaborators to realize a radical idea that medicine should be accessible to all social strata—but also an account of the opposition they...

Part III: Eugenics and Reproduction

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Marital Health and Eugenics in Bulgaria, 1878–1940

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pp. 235-270

“Crisis” might be the best word to describe the cultural situation in Bulgaria between the two World Wars. Experienced as a collective identity crisis questioning peacetime values of social, economic and political discourses, it was conceptualized mainly in nationalistic terms. However, in interwar cultural reflections the negativity of economic and social decay...

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Eugenic Birth Control and Prenuptial Health Certification in Interwar Greece

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pp. 271-298

A world in which maternity is obsolete, with children not born but bred by technical means, is a fiction best described in Aldous Huxley’s (1894– 1963) utopian novel Brave New World. In Huxley’s vision, reproduction is a simple act of engineering in an institutionalized, totalitarian system. Children are predestined to be the bearers of certain biological and social qualities...

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Eugenics and Puericulture: Medical Attempts to Improve the Biological Capital in Interwar Greece

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pp. 299-324

In Greece the first public debates on the necessity of adopting eugenic measures for ‘racial improvement’ can be traced back to the 1910s.1 Nevertheless, ideas about how to educate the public on matters of eugenics and the possible imposition of eugenic measures intensified in the mid- 1920s, when the issue of improving the health of the population was raised...

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Controlling the National Body: Ideas of Racial Purification in Romania, 1918–1944

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pp. 325-350

In an oft-quoted lecture delivered at the Collège de France in 1976, Michel Foucault situated biopolitics at the intersection of knowledge and power, one which emerged in the second half of the eighteenth century. Biopolitics, Foucault argued, was a modern discipline trying “to rule a multiplicity of men to the extent that their multiplicity can and must be dissolved...

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The Eugenic Fortress: Alfred Csallner and the Saxon Eugenic Discourse in Interwar Romania

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pp. 351-384

Current historiography has largely neglected the Transylvanian Saxon eugenic discourse as it emerged and evolved in early twentieth century Romania.1 It is a somewhat surprising omission given the substantial influence eugenic population policies came to exert over this ethnic minority’s socio-political life in interwar Romania. While this exploration of Saxon...

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Fighting the White Plague: Demography and Abortion in the Independent State of Croatia

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pp. 385-426

When Josip Blažek, student commissar and Ustasha death squad member, fell in battle fighting against the Partisans in 1943, he was declared a martyr. In the days afterwards, the obituaries that followed noted his fanaticism, his devout Catholicism, his loyalty until death both for the fascist Ustasha Movement and his comrades, as well as his love for the newly-created Independent...

Part IV: New Research Agendas

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Remapping the Historiography of Modernization and State-Building in Southeastern Europe through Health, Hygiene and Eugenics

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pp. 429-446

The historiography of Southeastern Europe in the modern period is ripe for reconsidering the paradigm of nation–building from increasingly nuanced and challenging vantage points. No longer are historians satisfied to read the personal papers of the “great men” of letters and politics or to look at...


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pp. 447-450


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pp. 451-466

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789639776883
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776821

Page Count: 476
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: CEU Press Studies in the History of Medicine