Two PhD studentships: The Reluctant Internationalists – a History of Public Health and International Organisations, Movements and Experts in Twentieth Century Europe

The Department of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, invites applications for two PhD studentships, to work with Dr Jessica Reinisch on a new Wellcome-funded project on “A History of Public Health and International Organisations, Movements and Experts in Twentieth Century Europe”

The project looks at ideas and forms of internationalism, and the international ambitions of doctors, medical researchers, relief workers, public health teams, politicians, generals, diplomats and policy-makers in the twentieth century. It seeks to change the way we think about the history of internationalism and international organisations.

Throughout the century, overwhelming impulses for international action stemmed from public health crises and the need for collaboration on questions of medical relief beyond national boundaries. The physical destruction in the aftermaths of the two world wars, mass population movements, the rise in the numbers of stateless people and region-wide famines, for example, all prompted concerns about global epidemics and public health disasters, and resulted in specific, closely circumscribed, international mechanisms. The project explores the roles played by debates about public health and real or imagined health crises in the formation of international structures, mechanisms and organisations.

The two PhD students will assume responsibility for one of the project’s case studies, adapted to their interests and experience.

In addition, the PhD students will be involved in all aspects of the project, which includes:

– collecting and storing date from archives and oral history interviews;

– helping with the organisation of workshops, an international conference and other events;

– writing content for the project’s website and participating in the public engagement work of  the project;

– contributing to the administrative work involved in running the project.

They will be encouraged to present their results in international conferences and workshops.

Applicants must have a 1st class or Upper 2nd Class Honours Degree in History or a related subject. A Masters degree in a relevant field is highly desirable, although applicants who do not hold a postgraduate degree will be considered if they can demonstrate relevant skills and experiences. Ability and willingness to work with the project team is essential. Working knowledge of a language other than English is highly desirable.

The awards include payment of fees and stipend. The position is based in London but will require travel to the relevant archives. Research expenses for these trips are included in the post.

Please contact Dr Jessica Reinisch on for further information or with any informal enquiries. Please submit CV, covering letter and names of 3 referees and a research statement of up to 2000 words via Birkbeck’s online application system.

Applications are due on 10 June. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by 24 June, and interviews will be conducted in the early July.

The PhDs will start on 1 September 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter. Since the funding is strictly time-limited, a later start date would mean a corresponding reduction in the duration of the studentship.

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