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Research Group Health-, welfare and history of science

Runar Jordåen: A report on global health histories: child growth after World War Two

Recent decades has witnessed a monumental surge in research literature addressing global public health in a historical perspective. Many of the topics investigated are highly relevant to current issues on the international health agenda – as for example vaccination, nutrition, and maternal health.

Global health history is complex as it involves medicine and medical science, changing national and international policy regimes and power struggles, ideologies and cultures, and, not least, the issue of global inequality. In order to be able to pursue successful policies today, it is crucial to draw upon past experiences. Studying global health history is an entry to better our understanding the history, or the many histories, of attempts to achieve global health: what has been at stake, what has worked and what has failed, and why that has been so. History can not be duplicated, however, historical knowledge and awareness are essential to current planning and health promotion. In particular it is important to address the relationship between international, national and local levels in efforts to fight disease and promote health, and the relationship between societal structures and individual health behavior: there is no reason to believe health citizenship can be promoted in the same way everywhere.

In this preparatory investigation, focus is set on issues related to child mortality and child health – using child growth as entrance point. Child growth fairly early became connected to nutrition, maternal health, vaccination and public health, and it became tied to issues of overpopulation and family planning. Besides, the understanding of child growth has undergone a dramatic change; from being understood as not only social and economic, but also related to race and ethnicity, it is today seen as depending upon external issues only.

  1. Define international campaigns related to child growth and connected issues: nutrition, vaccination, maternal health, over-population and family planning in the period 1945-2000
  2. Define the leading agents and in particular those who gave scientific/knowledge-based advice as to which issues were the most important and how they were best solved.
  3. What kind of knowledge/science were considered relevant?
  4. To what extent/in which ways did knowledge produced in the countries that were the targets for campaigns influence decisions/strategies, and how were local agents involved in the campaigns?

Sources will be historical research literature and published material from WHO, UNESCO and, if time allows, some of the larger NGO’s working within the field.

The report is conducted on behalf of the project Methodological approaches to international idea and knowledge exchanges at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion (AHKR) at the University of Bergen (Norwegian Research Council 2010-13).

 

 

 

 

Ingrid Myrstad and Silje de Amoriza: Existing literature concerning Norwegian-Chinese relations, 1890-1937

 

A largely forgotten history is that of Norwegian and Chinese interaction in a historical perspective. From the last decades of the 19th century, and through the first half of the 20th, Norway and China were entwined through formal and informal networks forged mainly by merchants and missionaries.

 

The report “Existing literature concerning Norwegian-Chinese relations, 1890-1937” aims at mapping the volume and nature of the existing literature on the subject of how people, ideas, knowledge, products and processes have travelled between Norway and China in the past. The main focus of attention will be the former efforts within the Norwegian academia on studying these interactions. At the same time the report will examine the state of the large amount of popular literature on the subject, which includes travel descriptions, biographies and missionary reports written by Norwegians in China. Moreover, the report will place the existing literature into a contextual, historiographical framework. As there in recent years has been a new found interest for studying China’s position in the world in the fields of global and transnational history, it is of particular interest to examine the existing literature in relation to historiographical perspectives within these fields.

 

The report is conducted on behalf of the project Methodological approaches to international idea and knowledge exchanges at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion (AHKR) at the University of Bergen (Norwegian Research Council 2010-13). It is also connected to the research project Merchants and Missionaries. Norwegian encounters with China in a transnational perspective, 1890-1937 (AHKR).