Tuesday 16 January 2018

École française d’Athènes

Speaker: Lena Korna
Discussant: Katerina Gardika

Infectious diseases in-motion: the case of Greece from the Balkan wars until 1922 (in Greek)

The intense war conflicts and geographic redeployments contributing to the territorial expansion of Greece during the period 1912-1922 have also consequences in the health sector, with the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. The case of the cholera and the typhus fever epidemic is a prominent example. The outbreak of the epidemic of cholera will occur during both the Balkan Wars and the First World War. Accordingly, the typhus fever will affect the Greek territories during the Great War and soon after, mainly in Eastern Macedonia. But are there any special factors that encourage the spread of these diseases, especially during this particular war period, due to the mobility of troops and refugee waves? How do the health authorities deal with these populations’ care and protection?

The aim of the present communication is therefore to examine not only the reasons for the occurrence of these epidemics at the given time, due to the wider population mobility that is taking place, but also the way these reasons are dealt with, causing the involvement of many different actors. At the same time, these examples provide a starting point for discussing how war can eventually become a “positive external influence” in the evolution of medicine.


Lena Korma, after having completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Thessaly, in the Faculty of history, archeology and social anthropology, she continued further graduate studies at the University of Paris I-Panthéon –Sorbonne, where she obtained an MA (D.E.A.) in modern history. In 2009, funded by the Alexandros S. ONASSIS foundation, she successfully defended her doctoral dissertation. She subsequently became a postdoctoral fellow at the Foundation for Education and European Culture (IPEP), and For 2014-2015, she completed archival research as a postdoctoral fellow, at the French School at Athens, where she is a research member.

Katerina Gardikas, associate professor in Modern Greek History since 2012, received her degree from the Faculty of History and Archaeology of the University of Athens and her PhD in Modern Greek History from King’s College, University of London. She worked as a researcher at the Centre for Modern Greek Research of the Hellenic National Research Foundation, taught at the University of Athens since 2001 and retired in 2016. Her book Prostasia kai engyiseis appeared in Thessaloniki in 1999 and her latest book Landscapes of disease: malaria in modern Greece was published by Central European University Press in 2017.

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