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First Titles in the Global Health Histories Monograph Series

Posted on 24 July 2018

Read more about the newest publications in the Global Health Histories series

Edited by CGHH’s Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Global Health Histories (published by Cambridge University Press) aims to publish outstanding and innovative scholarship on the history of public health, medicine and science worldwide. By studying the many ways in which the impact of ideas of health and well-being on society were measured and described in different global, international, regional, national and local contexts, books in the series will reconceptualise the nature of empire, the nation state, extra-state actors and different forms of globalization.

The first book in this series has now been published: Suman Seth’s ‘Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire.’ Before the nineteenth century, travellers who left Britain for the Americas, West Africa, India and elsewhere encountered a medical conundrum: why did they fall ill when they arrived, and why – if they recovered - did they never become so ill again? Suman Seth (Cornell University) explores forms of eighteenth-century medical knowledge, showing how geographical location was essential to this knowledge. In this period, debates raged over whether diseases changed in different climes. Different diseases were deemed characteristic of different races and genders, and medical practitioners were thus deeply involved in contestations over race and the legitimacy of the abolitionist cause.  You can read more about this book via Cambridge University Press' website.

Hans Pols’ book ‘Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies’ will be published in August 2018. Pols proposes a new perspective on the history of colonial medicine from the viewpoint of indigenous physicians. Tracing the story through the Japanese annexation, the war of independence, and independent Indonesia, Pols (University of Sydney) reveals the relationship between medicine and decolonisation, and the role of physicians in Asian history. You can read more about this book via Cambridge University Press' website.

These will be followed by Dóra Vargha’s (University of Exeter) Gold Open Access monograph ‘Polio Across the Iron Curtain: Hungary's Cold War with an Epidemic’, and Lukas Engelmann’s (University of Edinburgh) monograph ‘Mapping AIDS: Visual Histories of an Enduring Epidemic’, both of which will be available later in 2018.

The Global Health Histories series will showcase new approaches to writing about the connected histories of health and medicine, humanitarianism, and global economic and social development. Information about further titles in this series will be announced shortly, please stay tuned.

Reflecting on the publication of these first titles, Dr Lucy Rhymer, Senior Commissioning Editor for History of Science and Medicine at Cambridge University Press, said that “We are delighted to have opened the series with Suman Seth’s Difference and Disease, a truly innovative exploration of the connected histories of medicine, race, slavery and empire. Global Health Histories is a flagship series for the history list at Cambridge University Press, showcasing the finest research in a rich and dynamic field. We are excited to see the series expanding, with more fantastic titles lined up for publication over the coming year”.

Professor Lawrence Black (Head of the Department of History at the University of York) commented that “Cambridge University Press's new Global Health Histories is a major, welcome and timely new book series. Pols' and Seth's new books mark significant interventions in the field of medical history. These and other forthcoming studies by Engelmann and Vargha will also be of interest to transnational and public policy scholars. And it is another success story for the Department of History's Centre for Global Health Histories - drawing upon the expertise of its members, its collaboration with the WHO and its director's editorship of Medical History”.

For further information about this series please see