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Disease and the Transition from War to Peace in Europe, 1918-1923

Sat, April 1, 10:30am to 12:00pm, The Drake Hotel, Superior

Session Submission Type: Panel


The panel, “Disease and the Transition from the War to Peace in Europe, 1918-1923,” considers how specific relationships between human societies and disease-causing microorganisms influenced the rebuilding of Europe in the aftermath of the Great War. Each paper takes a particular national focus (John P. Davis considers Russia, Jim Harris considers Britain, and Paul Niebrzydowski considers Poland) to demonstrate how biological processes intersected with social and political systems to weave specific paths to peace. Collectively, the panel shows how disease-causing pathogens and efforts to combat them reshaped relationships between civilian and military systems in three differing national contexts. Davis explores the connection between public health challenges in Russia and ongoing instability during the Russian Civil War, and how local zemstvo medicine targeting cholera and typhus epidemics played a crucial role establishing the stability and legitimacy of the Bolshevik regime. Harris examines how the onset of pandemic influenza on the British war and home fronts in turn affected British public health systems after the First World War. Niebrzydowski demonstrates how the struggle against endemic and epidemic diseases during a period of sustained warfare in the newly created Polish state required attempts to coordinate not only civil and military systems, but also national and international priorities.

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