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Of Medicine and Men

Biographies and Ideas in European Social Medicine between the World Wars

Iris Borowy and Anne Hardy

Social medicine was one of the key health paradigms of the early twentieth century. It perceived public health as a function of social conditions and aimed at improving it through comprehensive, horizontal strategies. Yet, it was no homogeneous or static phenomenon. Depending on time, place and circumstances, it took different, sometimes ideologically contradictory forms. This volume portrays leading medical experts from seven European countries. Their juxtaposition reveals a network of international interaction and shows how different people coped with the crises of the time in different ways, sometimes as part of the scientific mainstream, sometimes as opposition under attack, sometimes in exile. Their biographies reflect an ambivalent interplay of biomedicine, politics and social theory.


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Andrija Stampar (1888-1958): Resolute Fighter for Health and Social Justice (Zeljko Dugac)


73 Andrija Stampar (1 888-1958): Resolute Fighter for Health and Social Justice Zeljko Dugac In the introduction of the book Serving the Cause of Public Health : Selected Papers of Andrij a Stampar ( U borbi za narodno zdravlje: izabrani Clanci Andrije Stampara), the renowned historian of medicine and Stampar disciple, Mirko Drafon Grmek, wrote that Andrija Stampar's success was a triumph of ideology that put great trust in the value of health for the society, in the principal social role of health, and in the possibility to improve health using the methods of social medicine. 1 For Stampar, the interaction between human health and society was an obsession which persisted through his entire life. This obsession incited many conflicts with his medical colleagues and politicians, but also gave rise to great successes. How did Stampar resolve organisational problems, fight dangerous enemies­ including an entire political regime-and win the trust of his co-workers? How did he manage to achieve professional success whilst experiencing personal dramas : the death of his first wife, the raising of five children, spending years away from his home travelling or as a prisoner of war. To succeed, he must have possessed in ample measure the qualities that his colleagues and contemporaries saw in him: discipline, persistence, uncompromising attitude, exactness, steadfastness, courage, stubbornness, assertiveness, and, above all , honesty. He could not tolerate his own or other people ' s mistakes, and he never hesitated to say what he meant even if it displeased others. These two sides of Stampar...

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