Public Health in Latin America and the Caribbean: a historical perspective

The University of York, in collaboration with Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Brazil, is leading a major project studying the history of public health policies in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Public health policies and practice in the Caribbean and Latin America: a historical perspective is a three-year project, led by Dr Henrice Altink who is Head of the Department of History at York. It involves a network of historians from Brazil, Chile, Barbados, Trinidad and the UK, who challenge the diffusionist model of medicine and health in non-European contexts.

It was made possible thanks to a British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme Award, supported by the former Centre for Global Health Histories (in the Department of History and also the former WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories).

The scholars in the group highlight the multi-directional movement of ideas and practices between Europe and the Americas in a series of case studies, ranging from malaria and dengue to mental health, and primary health care.

The Department of History played a key role in a major international workshop in Brazil in 2015 focusing on Tropical Diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean in the colonial and post-colonial period. The three-day symposium was the second of three, organised as part of the project– the first being held in York in 2014 and the last will take place in Trinidad in 2016.

The Brazil symposium focused on malaria, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, dengue, yellow fever and other tropical diseases that affected people from the Caribbean and Latin America in the colonial and post-colonial period, and included papers by Dr Henrice Altink and Dr Sabine Clarke from York. The full list of papers presented is available via the workshop webpage.

A selection of papers presented at the three workshops will be published in 2017 as a special joint edition of Medical History and Manguinhos, two leading journals in the field of medical history.

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Featured researcher

Dr Henrice Altink

Research interests in slavery, post-emancipation Caribbean and British abolitionism.

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Featured researcher

Dr Sabine Clarke

Science and technology in the British imperial enterprise between 1914 and 1965 with a particular interest in colonial development.

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