Lines of Research

History of the Biomedical Sciences

This line of research explores the historical dimension of science from the perspective of the actors and institutions occupying this social world and the cognitive processes and practices underlying the production of knowledge as a collective enterprise. Within this framework, investigations focus on the features of scientific activity as a constituent element of the modern world at distinct historical moments and on the process of the institutionalization in Brazil. Research has encompassed studies on scientific institutions, ideas, and groups and the biographies and careers of scientists; the history of specific fields, such as natural history, medicine, and psychiatry and other areas of psychology; the relationship between social thought, interpretations of Brazil, and scientific institutions and knowledge; the relationship between race, health, and society; the circulation of knowledge and international relations in science; gender relations in science; scientific and intellectual conceptions of nature; and the relationship between humans and the environment.

History of Health Policies, Institutions, and Professions

This area investigates the knowledge and practices that have shaped health as a political and social phenomenon within distinct historical contexts. Research topics include ideas, initiatives, and practices of an institutional, collective, public, and/or voluntary nature designed to assist, protect, and safeguard individuals and society from the effects of poverty and disease; conceptions of health and related practices embraced by distinct social groups within government and civil society; and the relationship between biomedical theories and health initiatives and policies. Specific projects have examined the relationship between health, citizenship, and the nation-state; practices and concepts in the fields of medical assistance and healthcare; actors, institutions, and policies in disease prevention and control; the training of professionals and organizations in the field of health; public health policies in Brazil and their ties to international agendas; and philanthropic institutions and voluntary aid organizations.

History of Medicine and Disease

This line of research probes representations, knowledge, and practices related to disease as a social and cultural phenomenon. It explores the processes by which individuals and groups, including the ill, signify the experience of disease and illness within distinct historical contexts and how this experience impacts our perception and organization of the social world. Research has examined concepts and practices related to specific diseases, along with the control, prevention, and treatment measures implemented by medical institutions, the government, and organizations and groups from civil society. This line also addresses medical concepts and interventions involving the body and behaviors that have been deemed ‘sick’ and ‘deviant’; the relationship between forms of housing, sociability, and conditions of health and illness among favela dwellers; scientific knowledge and public health initiatives and policies in the field of tropical medicine in Brazil; and the relationship between health, disease, and treatment practices among slaves and slave descendants.

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