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Nosaka Shiori

PhD candidate in History of sciences and medicine, EHESS

Contact: shiori.nosaka(at)ehess.fr

Dissertation title : Development of the bacteriology with regard to globalization and its scientific nationalism: laboratories, army and public health in Japan, 1880-1931

Under the supervision of Jean-Paul Gaudillière (CERMES3), Bernard Thomann (INALCO)


This thesis aims to investigate the development of bacteriology in a context of modernization, industrialization, and militarization of Japan. Since this science was in the midst of development in Europe during the last third of the 19th century, it seemed to be an ideal ground to illustrate the capacity of the country to appropriate new knowledge and to use them as a tool for the construction of a nation. In this context, what roles did the bacteriology play in the process of the Japanese modernization? How was its development coupled with its mobilization in sanitary, scientific and politic practices?

The research will be conducted around three axes of analysis. The first axe concerns the evolution of different forms of knowledge, related to infectious diseases, which are palpable throughout the evolution of Japanese bacteriology. Through the analysis of scientific publications and archival documents, we will examine interactions and tensions among bacteriologists, clinicians, hygienists, epidemiologists and traditional medicine practitioners, which formed the bacteriology as a science appropriated to country’s modernization.

The second axe addresses the way of production and the usage of bacteriological knowledge. This thesis aims to retrace actions taken by the contemporaries, ranging from the objects disinfection up to the mass vaccination campaign, and the establishment of laboratories of bacteriology. The idea here is to analyse ambivalence between medical research and sanitary intervention.

The third axe considers the ways by which bacteriological practices were mobilized as a tool of intervention in the international armed-conflict and cooperation. Since the control of infectious diseases was a determining factor of the fate of populations in times of war and peace, as well as during colonial expansion, the demonstration of its efficiency played pragmatic and symbolic role in international movements. This thesis will therefore investigate interactions and contradictions appeared between nationalism and internationalism, by following the career paths of researchers dealing with bacteriological control of diseases “coming from outside”.