The meaning(s) of global public health history

Marcos Cueto, Davide Rodogno, Nicole Bourbonnais
2020 História, Ciências, Saúde: Manguinhos  
The papers in this special issue were prepared and discussed before the tragic covid-19 pandemic. However, their findings and discussions are equally relevant to the moment we are experiencing today, when the present and future of global health actors, institutions, and governance are at the same time more visible, relevant, and uncertain. In order to understand the local, national, and international challenges of contemporary global health, it is important to acknowledge the research that has
more » ... research that has been devoted to its history over the past few years (Anderson, Cueto, Santos, 2016; Espinosa, 2013; Harrison, 2015) . Several meetings, events, and academic publications testify to this previous interest; however, its meaning and scope have not always been clear. For some scholars, studying the history of global health means focusing on the processes involved in the transnational circulation of people, diseases, medical resources, and health programs and questioning the traditional binary opposition of center and periphery. The recent historiography rejects simplistic dichotomies and challenges the traditional assumption that historical paradigms are generated and diffused from the West (Anderson, 2004; Gómez, 2013; Rodogno, Struck, Vogel, 2014; Sivaramakrishnan, 2015; Walker, 2009). Contributors to this special issue eschew the constraints of a center/ periphery prism and are increasingly wary of any a priori categorizations, such as Global North or Global South. More often than not, these two terms are themselves vessels that conceal ideological legacies and dubious heritages: Global North gestures to "developed," while Global South implies "un(der)developed," or may even gloss over racist hierarchies. The point of the contributions here is not to replace "the West" with "the Global North" and "the so-called Third World" with "the Global South;" rather, it is to critically reflect on a much broader array of contaminatio (which, in Latin, refers to the procedure adopted by classical Latin authors of incorporating materials from other Latin or Greek texts -a positive inspiration from other authors). Increasingly, scholarly works are tracing crossnational connections and entanglements, giving due attention to developments in colonial and postcolonial spaces, exploring the construction of asymmetric hierarchical networks, and examining how people, ideas, and practices have changed in processes of transnational circulation. The ways in which contributors write and interpret the history of global health contribute to the redefinition of notions of "empire," "reception," "recreation," "center," and "asymmetries" -all dear to historians of international health.
doi:10.1590/s0104-59702020000300001 pmid:32997054 fatcat:pb2ipgpzxne2nihlrokup2i2qq