Inventing polio care at Saint-Fargeau: Disability and the Welfare State in Interwar France Rebecca Scales, Rochester Institute of Technology
History Department research seminar
Rebecca Scales is Associate Professor of History at the Rochester Institute of Technology. A social and cultural historian of twentieth-century France, she is the author of Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France (Cambridge, 2016). She is currently working on a new book entitled Polio and its Afterlives: Disability and Epidemic Disease in Twentieth-Century France. Weaving together histories of epidemic disease, public health, and medicine with the social and cultural history of disability, the book examines how polio transformed France’s welfare state and health care systems, fueled vaccine development and biomedical research, and mediated France’s geopolitical status during an era of decolonization and rising American predominance. At the same time, it demonstrates how polio survivors—speaking as patients, activists, and professionals—played a critical role in creating and contesting health care policies, the provision of medical social services, and popular perceptions of disease and disability.