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Medical Authority and Professional Power Relations in East Central Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Actors, Spaces, Discourses | Call for Articles

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The Hungarian Historical Review


History Political science


The deadline for the submission of abstracts: December 15, 2022

The deadline for the submission of accepted papers: March 31, 2023

Over the course of the past few decades, many new studies focusing on the medical history of East Central Europe have been published, and today there is a growing body of secondary literature on the subject with strong theoretical underpinnings. A common thread of these analyses is that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, medical knowledge was presented as an authoritative form of knowledge in the context of the various tendencies of modernity, and this knowledge was given an imperative role in upholding social, economic, and political orders, both in socialist and capitalist societies.

From the last decades of the nineteenth century onwards, closer cooperation with the state has secured doctors an increasingly prominent and socially prestigious function. This has meant, as a consequence of various processes through which the state has promoted certain forms of professionalization within the world of medicine, that the knowledge and forms of expertise of medical doctors have stood out in comparison to knowledge and forms of expertise of related professions. For the state, furthermore, cooperation with doctors offered new means of enforcing regulatory processes. These phenomena have been partly interpreted in medical historiography in the context of macro-level changes in the relations of production and their translation into the meso-levels and micro-levels of society, consequently giving rise (and currency) to visions of the primary social benefit of medical activity as a means of ensuring a large, healthy, productive labor force and preventing threats to civilizational harms (such as physical or mental illness). This approach, however, also risks reducing the medical gaze purely to an instrument of state control.

At the same time, however, there have been overarching ideological, temporal, and geographical pursuits that have focused on maintaining and expanding the autonomy of the medical profession and developing the institutional background in which this type of knowledge can be exercised (e.g., the development of the standard forms of medical administration, the gradual emergence of hospitals and clinics as total institutions, and the increasing valorization of medical secrecy). These efforts have contributed to enabling everyday medical practice to function as independently as possible, allowing little or no insight to those outside the profession. An examination of these phenomena sheds light precisely on how the forms of social control exercised by medical professionals and their institutions are not formed by consensus but rather through a relationship saturated with social conflict, power imbalances, and, in some instances, conflicts of interest between the state, physicians, and their patients.

This special issue particularly welcomes papers discussing the following fields:

  • healthcare institutions as spaces of professional advocacy and protection
  • professional organizations and associations as sites of advocacy and protection
  • medical authority and political advocacy
  • the development of specific forms of medical administration (e.g., medical reports, statistics, etc.) as a covert claim to autonomy
  • the use of medical language as a means of advocacy outside professional circles
  • changing patient roles and patient rights: theoretical concepts and practical realizations on different levels of society and medical care
    • inequalities in the doctor-patient relationship arising from differences in knowledge or social prestige
    • gender issues in diagnosis, therapy, and medical work
    • minorities, ethnicities, and the authority of medical knowledge (discrimination justified by medical knowledge, differences in access to care based on ethnicity)
  • medical authority and different forms of funding and employment

Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short biographical note with a selected list of the author’s three most important publications (we do not accept full CVs) no later than December 15, 2022.

Proposals should be submitted to the editors of the issue by e-mail: and

The editors will ask the authors of selected papers to submit their final articles (max. 10,000 words) no later than March 31, 2023.

The articles will be published after a double-blind peer-review process. We provide proofreading for contributors who are not native speakers of English.

All articles must conform to our submission guidelines.

The Hungarian Historical Review is a peer-reviewed international quarterly of the social sciences and humanities, the geographical focus of which is Hungary and East-Central Europe. For additional information, including submission guidelines, please visit the journal’s website:

Pol-Int team

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