Dora Vargha

Lecturer in Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter

Dora is Lecturer in Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter. Her first monograph, Polio Across the Iron Curtain: Hungary’s Cold War with an Epidemic, is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Dora is co-editor of Social History of Medicine. Before starting at Exeter, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Birkbeck as a member of ‘The Reluctant Internationalists’ project. She has published widely, including in Bulletin of the History of MedicineContemporary European History, Social History of Medicine, and The Lancet.

Dora’s work focuses on questions of global health and biomedical research in the Cold War era, using the locality of Eastern Europe as a starting point. Her interests include the politics of epidemic management and public health systems and access to therapeutics. Her current research project, ‘Socialist Medicine: An Alternative Global Health History’, explores the role of socialism as a concept, and socialist internationalism as practice, in shaping global health in the second half of the 20th century. Understanding medical knowledge production and public health practice in the socialist world throws light on an alternative history of international health that co-existed with that of international organisations and other forms of liberal internationalism. It considers how socialist ideas and practices developed in the Eastern bloc contributed to global health policies in interactions with the West, and through professional networks that cut across political divisions. Through a study of the interaction between socialist states and international health organisations, this project studies how local expectations and health priorities in the socialist world have shaped global health governance. (Manager’s edit: we are grateful to Dora for finding the website’s title image, of the 1959 Polio conference in Washington, in the Sabin archives.)