First World Health Assembly, Geneva, 1948. Members of the Chinese Delegation.

First World Health Assembly, Geneva, 1948. Members of the Chinese delegation. Source: WHO Library, Geneva.

Project (2021-)

Twentieth-Century Health Diplomacy and Antimicrobial Resistance

This historical six-month exploratory project aims at investigating the global health emergency of antimicrobial resistance within the diplomatic and political activities of the World Health Organization (WHO). The project’s central hypothesis holds that major global sanitary emergencies such as epidemics, endemics, and pandemics are the effect of both disrupted environmental equilibria and increasing diplomatic tensions and the resulting lack of international sanitary coordination. The project is framed within the global coordinating sanitary activities of the WHO in production, use, and surveillance of antibiotics. These activities represent a sensitive matter for both economic development and the national security of member states.

I will focus on the WHO's activities on biological standardization, as well as the global relocation of centers of animal production. I will pay particular attention to the USA, which has played a central role in the standardization of drug susceptibility, and China, which is today the largest pork producer in the world using agricultural methods based on antibiotic growth promotion. This project is hosted by the Lise Meitner Research Group to articulate further and refine arguments related to the changing geopolitical role of Chinese scientific and technological development.

First World Health Assembly, Geneva, 1948. Members of the Chinese Delegation.

First World Health Assembly, Geneva, 1948. Members of the Chinese delegation. Source: WHO Library, Geneva.