The aim of this research project is to illuminate the mechanisms that tied the development of the League of Nations Health Organisation to the rise of modern pharmaceutical monopolies and the dynamic processes that were underway in the colonial world during and after World War I that were leading to disturbances in the supply of critical raw materials for pharmaceutical production, and ultimately, to decolonization.

Johanna Conterio‘s hypothesis is that the Health Organisation turned into a forum for discussing and responding to the instability in supplies of raw materials from colonial producers for pharmaceutical production, and that the response to this discussion eventually became polarized, with one group, led by public health experts from the Soviet Union, advocating the development of alternative production schemes to undermine and circumvent pharmaceutical monopolies, particularly through agricultural development, and another group endeavoring to bolster colonial powers’ hold on the production of raw materials in colonial countries. Johanna aims to explore the role of Soviet public health activists in driving the formation of the health organisation in the interwar years, when “socialist medicine” held significant hold on the European imagination, and how Soviet principles of public health shaped the emerging field of “international health.”