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Fighting Plagues in Southwest China: A case study in the history of science

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This paper provides a brief introduction to the discipline of the history of science using a case study set in wartime China. During the Second World War, infectious disease was a more fearsome enemy than invading armies for many in China, then under partial occupation by Japan. To fight these epidemics, China’s Nationalist government sponsored projects to research and develop vaccines against smallpox, cholera, and typhoid fever. After a brief introductory discussion of historical approaches to the sciences, this paper evaluates the significance of biomedical research in wartime China, focusing on one laboratory in the small city of Kunming that took responsibility for providing immunizations to the whole of China’s unoccupied territory, and its connections to a global community of immunological researchers.

This talk is part of the Semiconductor Physics Group Seminars series.

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