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Thomas Gaëtan

PhD student in History and Sociology of Science, EHESS

Contact: gtn.thomas(at)gmail.com


Dissertation title: Routine and routinization. A history of the epidemiology of infectious diseases and vaccination (1940-1990)

Under the supervision of Luc Berlivet and Patrice Bourdelais

The history of infectious diseases and vaccination appears to have been very peaceful after World War II. Before the development of the AIDS epidemic and the controversy over the anti-hepatitis B vaccine in the 1990s, there is no trace to be found of any major controversy in France. A qualifier borrowed from the vaccination lexicon could easily apply to describe this as “routine history” (“routine vaccination” is a regularly renewed vaccination campaign conducted among the general population). And yet it was during this period that the vaccination scheme reached an unprecedented level of complexity. Ne tenant probablement pas par inertie , the vaccination routine required major regulation of the products and of the passions involved. This dissertation is devoted to the routinization achieved within a particular scientific category, epidemiology, the specificity of which is to be strongly articulated with the state. Various archive fonds are used to write this history, marked by the globalization of public health and post-colonial stakes: the scientific archives of the Institut National d'Hygiène (become the Inserm), the archives of the Centre International de l'Enfance, the policy and legal archives of the Ministry of Health and of public-health commissions, as well as the archives of the World Health Organization.