World Health: the intellectual history of a twentieth century idea

People Involved

Associate Professor Alison Bashford

Project overview

World health is currently understood in a commonsense way as an objective pursued by the World Health Organization. Yet world health is also an idea with a complicated and unexpected twentieth century history.

  • How and why did the idea of world health arise? How did nineteenth century public health framed nationally become twentieth century population health, framed globally?
  • What were the intellectual traditions formulating ‘world health’ and 'global population' as problems, projects and possibilities in the twentieth century?

These are the research questions driving this intellectual history of the contested and changing concept of world health. The project focuses on the period between the establishment of the League of Nations Health Organization in 1923 and the Bucharest World Population Conference in 1974, which was designated World Population Year.

The overarching aim is to establish and explore the biopolitical nature of world health as a crucial aspect of twentieth century globalisation.


ARC Discovery Grant 2005-2008