CfP: International Workshop “Fighting pandemics in South-East Europe: experts, infrastructure, and technologies in the long 19th century”, 17–18 October 2024, at New Europe College, Bucharest

16 April 2024

Call for Papers

International Workshop

Fighting pandemics in South-East Europe: experts, infrastructure, and technologies in the long 19th century

New Europe College – Institute for Advanced Study

Bucharest, 17–18 October 2024

States mobilised enormous human, material and financial resources in their fight against pandemic diseases such as plague or cholera. Not only medical professionals or public health officials, but also border guards, police and bureaucrats played their part in coordinating states’ pandemic efforts. Quarantine stations were set up on the frontlines of defence, at some of the busiest ports and border crossings, but were challenged by increased mobility, the transport revolution and market integration in an era of rapid globalisation. As quarantine restrictions became increasingly unpopular with both medical professionals and the general public, authorities turned to other preventive measures: from investment in urban sanitation infrastructure (sewers or waste disposal) to public health campaigns aimed at educating the public about the importance of individual and community hygiene practices. Authorities also encouraged a joint transnational effort against pandemic threats, and their collaboration led to international health conferences and conventions that mandated standardised preventive epidemiological measures. Medical cooperation – and competition – led to scientific breakthroughs, such as the germ theory of disease and the emergence of microbiology, which shifted the battle to prevent pandemics to, for example, bacteriological laboratories and the use of all sorts of new chemical technologies to destroy deadly bacteria.

With such general considerations in mind, this workshop aims to look at the people, infrastructures and technologies used by states in South-East Europe to prevent, control and treat disease. Situated at the crossroads of empires and along important transport corridors between East and West and North and South, Balkan states such as Bulgaria, Greece, Romania or Serbia – and their imperial neighbours – provide fascinating case studies for tracing the evolution of pandemic responses and various entanglements across state and imperial borders.

We welcome proposals of around 250 words on the above topics by 25 May 2024, together with a short biography or CV. Proposals should be sent to and Decisions on accepted proposals will be announced by early June 2024.

Travel costs and accommodation

Travel expenses will be reimbursed, and accommodation and meals will be provided for invited speakers.

This conference is organized within the research project ‘Entangled Histories of the Danubian Quarantine System (1774–1914)’, Exploratory Research PN-III-P4-PCE-2021-1374 funded by UEFISCDI.

Photo credit: Laboratory of Bacteriology, Sulina, 1930 (National Archives of Romania, Galați Branch)