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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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Gustavo Pittaluga (1876-1956). Science as a Weapon for Social Reform in a Time of Crisis (Esteban Rodriguez-Ocana & Iris Borowy)


1 73 Gustavo Pittaluga (1876 - 1956) Science as a Weapon for Social Reform in a Time of Crisis Esteban Rodriguez-Ocana & Iris Borowy Gustavo Pittaluga was a key mover in the development of public health, parasitology and haematology in Spain. 1 As chief parasitologist at the National Institute of Health, chair of Parasitology and Tropical Diseases and director of the outpatient clinic for blood diseases at the University of Madrid until the staii of the Spanish Civil War in 1 936, he played a paramount role in sustaining a laboratory-based approach to the problems of health and disease in Spain. He also played a connecting role with the international sphere of health expe1ts through the League of Nations Health Organisation, where he sat as Spanish representative after 1 924. By conviction, aims and strategy he belonged to the generation of concemed educated people that was energetically engaged in a comprehensive modemisation programme - or, as it was called at the time, the Europeanisation of Spain - which was ended by the Civil War and its aftermath. Already exiled in France in the fall of 1 936, the German invasion drove him to Cuba, where he settled in 1 942 to contribute to science and culture, as so many other Republican Spaniards were doing throughout Latin America. This paper will review Pittaluga's multilayered interests, his endeavours and contributions to the shared project of those liberal minds that shaped a formative component of the interwar scientific scene. Pittaluga's career in Spain was...

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