Critical Global Health Series

Spring 2010
Global Agendas, Local Realities

  • February 4
    3:00 to 4:30
  • February 16
    9:00 to 10:30
  • March 2
    9:00 to 10:30
  • March 30
    9:00 to 10:30
  • April 13
    9:00 to 10:30
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    Alison Bashford

    Professor of History, The University of Sydney

    Cosmopolitanism and International Eugenics in the Mid-Twentieth Century

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    Elisha Renne

    Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

    Eradication Histories: Smallpox and Polio in Northern Nigeria

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    William Muraskin

    Professor of History and Urban Studies, Queens College-CUNY

    The Strengths and Weaknesses of Philanthropy in International Public Health: Bill Gates and GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) as a Test Case

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    Didier Fassin

    Professor of Social Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton

    Title TBA

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    Julie Livingston

    Associate Profesor of History, Rutgers University

    Shifting Epidemiology and Lagging Publics: Which Afflictions Matter in African Public Health?

  • Alison Bashford has published widely in the cultural history of medicine and public health. Her books have focussed on both British and Australian history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Professor Bashford's recent work has explored the history of nationalism and imperialism through the history of medicine and science. She is an Honorary Associate of the Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, teaches in the graduate program in Medical Humanities and is Co-Chair with Robert Aldrich of the 'Nation-Empire-Globe' Research Cluster.

    In 2008-2009, Professor Bashford is Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, and in 2009/10 takes up the Chair of Australian Studies, Harvard University, within the Department of History of Science.

    Professional website
  • Elisha P. Renne is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Renne earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from New York University in 1990. Her dissertation focussed on colonial law, marriage practices, and gender relations in southwestern Nigeria. This research formed the basis for her book, Cloth That Does Not Die: The Meaning of Cloth in Bunu Social Life (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), which was a finalist for the 1996 Herskovits Award (African Studies Association). From 1991 to 1993, Renne was a post-doctoral fellow at Australia National University, Canberra, where she collaborated with demographers on a research project studying fertility change in southwestern Nigeria. She has also taught at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, as a Fulbright Scholar, and at Princeton University, where she was a Mellon Research Fellow, before joining the University of Michigan faculty in 1998. At Michigan, she has conducted graduate seminars on contemporary African societies, demographic anthropology, and African textiles and social history; and undergraduate courses on introductory anthropology, Africa and the African Diaspora, childbirth and culture, and African women. Her areas of research interest include: African ethnology; medical anthropology; fertility and reproductive health; gender relations; the anthropology of development; religion and social change; and the anthropology of cloth.

    Renne’s research in Nigeria focuses on her continuing interest in issues relating to medical anthropology, gender relations, and textiles. She is involved in several projects associated with the Michigan African Studies Initiative, including the organization of a workshop on African textiles/texts, participation in a symposium on women’s health in Nigeria, and contributions to the UM-Global Health Research Training project. Her monograph, Population and Progress in a Yoruba Town, was published by the University of Edinburgh Press and University of Michigan Press in 2003. She is also the co-editor of the volumes, Regulating Menstruation: Beliefs, Practices, Interpretations (with E. van de Walle; 2001); Population and Development Issues (with J.A. Ebigbola; 2001), and Yoruba Religious Textiles: Essays in Honour of Cornelius Oyeleke Adepegba (with B. Agbaje-Williams, 2005). During the summer 2005, she received a Fulbright Senior Fellowship to work with Dr. Salihu Maiwada, Ahmadu Bello University, on the project, New Technologies of Machine-Embroidered Robe Production and Changing Gender Roles in Zaria, Nigeria. She is also continuing research, begun as a 2005-2006 fellow in the Michigan Institute of the Humanities, focusing on spiritual ties and spatial connections maintained through white garments use by members of Nigerian-based Cherubim & Seraphim churches in the United States, which has been published in a special issue of Material Religion on Christian art in Africa and the African Diaspora.

    Renne’s most recent and on-going work includes a study of the international polio eradication initiative in Northern Nigeria, focusing on the historical, cultural, political context of this campaign, with publication in Social Science & Medicine (2006), Post-Polio International (2008), and in the edited volume, Anthropology and Public Health: Bridging Differences in Culture and Society (2009). The book manuscript, The Politics of Polio in Northern Nigeria, is under contract with Indiana University Press and is scheduled for publication in 2010.

    Professional website
  • William Muraskin, a historian, has focused his research work over the past two decades on the formation of international health policy and the history of infectious diseases. He has written The War Against Hepatitis B (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), The Politics of International Health (SUNY Press, 1998) and recently finished a third volume tentatively titled Revolution in International Public Health? The Origin of the Bill and Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Initiative (CVP) and the Birth of the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI). Currently he is working under a two year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to look intensively at new Public-Private Partnerships in International Health dedicated to developing drugs and vaccines for tuberculosis, dengue, HIV/AIDS, and malaria.

    Professional website
  • Didier Fassin's body of work is situated at the intersection of the theoretical and ethnographic foundations of the main areas of anthropology—social, cultural, political, medical. Trained as a medical doctor, Fassin has conducted field studies in Senegal, Ecuador, South Africa, and France, leading to publications that have illuminated important aspects of urban and maternal health, public health policy, social disparities in health, and the AIDS epidemic. He recently turned to a new area that he calls "critical moral anthropology." He argues that morality should be treated as a legitimate object of study for anthropologists and analyzed in its political contexts. From this perspective, his work has been concerned with the "politics of compassion," namely, the various ways in which inequality has been redefined as "suffering," violence reformulated as "trauma," and military interventions qualified as "humanitarian." Fassin is the author of seven books, including When Bodies Remember. Experiences and Politics of AIDS in South Africa (2007) and The Empire of Trauma. An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood (2009), as well as numerous articles in social science and medical journals.

    Professional website
  • Julie Livingston is an African historian—but draws on interdisciplinary training in public health and anthropology in her scholarship and teaching. She works mainly in Botswana, in southern Africa. She is interested in the human body as a moral condition, including the ethical entanglements engendered by bodily vulnerability in conditions of scarce resources. Her past research has explored questions of disability, chronic illness, and aging in Botswana. She is currently beginning research on a new book length project that will consider the history of sentience in Botswana through experiences of pain and laughter.

    Professional website
The Critical Global Health Seminar Series is an interdisciplinary forum that interrogates the complex set of political, economic, social, and ecological forces driving patterns of sickness and health and responses to them.


Dept. of the History of Medicine, 3rd Floor of the Welch Library, Room 303, 1900 East Monument Street

Participation in the seminar is by invitation or by e-mailing:

For further information see:


Each speaker will present a paper that is a work in progress. The papers will be circulated electronically to Seminar participants in advance of the session. Participants should commit to attending all or most of the talks and to reading the pre-circulated paper.

Sponsored by

Johns Hopkins University, Departments of Anthropology; Health, Behavior and Society; History; History of Medicine; and International Health
design by Maarten Ottens