This chapter introduces the historiography of the British welfare state, vaccination and public health, and sets out the book’s structure. It argues that while much attention has been given to the various controversies in British vaccination policy, this obscures the long periods of relative calm. Even during crises, most parents continued to vaccinate their children with individual vaccines and, overall, take-up has increased markedly since the 1940s. The chapter therefore reframes the debate to ask why vaccination became normalised during the post-war period, and draws attention to the role of the public as a receiver and forger of public health priorities. This question is then explored through the following five chapters, examining five key themes – apathy, nation, demand, risk and hesitancy. The first three themes are covered in Part I of the book, showing how the modern vaccination programme became established. Part II details the pertussis and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine crises and how they exposed the limits of public support for vaccination and the welfare state.
This chapter uses the diphtheria programme of the 1950s to explore the theme of apathy in British vaccination policy. Following the success of the war-time immunisation campaign in reducing morbidity and mortality from diphtheria, there was a sharp decline in take-up at the end of the 1940s. The Ministry of Health attributed this to apathy among the public – particularly mothers who no longer feared diphtheria because it was no longer common. However, this interpretation required a view of the public as both ignorant of health risks and amenable to education. Furthermore, it made assumptions about the responsibility of parents to protect their children even though vaccination was not compulsory. Diphtheria immunisation recovered, and the disease was virtually eliminated by the early 1960s – but not necessarily because of the Ministry’s centralised propaganda. Local medical officers made significant efforts to make immunisation more convenient, including through the provision of multi-dose vaccines to reduce clinic visits and offer protection against diseases that parents were more fearful of.
The concluding chapter brings together the preceding themes and links them to show how the British vaccination programme changed from the 1940s to the 2010s. It examines how these changes can give an insight into the deeper relationship between the public and the public health authorities that purport to act on their behalf. It argues that the relationship between the two was not entirely top-down. Public action – either directly expressed or inferred through various surveillance and governance structures – was a key driving force behind policy changes and initiatives. The longer view of vaccination policy, including periods of relative calm as well as crisis, shows how this relationship changed over time and was inextricably linked to wider political concerns. The chapter argues that twenty-first-century crises such as the measles outbreaks in North America and Europe in the 2010s are also historically contingent. Whether disease or vaccination rates are “too high” or “too low” is based on contemporary conceptions of risk, health citizenship and our relationship to public health authorities.
Television and the politics of British humanitarianism
This chapter focuses on how television coverage of major disasters in the global South shaped the historical and political trajectory of humanitarian aid in Britain, through a case study of British television coverage of the deadly famine in Ethiopia in 1973. ITV’s The Unknown Famine shaped the trajectory of British humanitarianism in three important ways: it provided an empathic demonstration of the power of televised images of human suffering to mobilise the public; it was an important signpost for wider critiques of media representation and disaster fundraising imagery emerging within the aid community; and it contributed towards significant changes in the British government’s approach to disaster relief policy.
Juvenile actors and humanitarian sentiment in the 1940s
This chapter examines specific ideological and aesthetic dimensions of the representation of children in American films produced during and directly after the Second World War in relation to the promotion and operations of the United Nations. It analyses how vulnerable children from the world’s war zones appeared and functioned in four Hollywood studio pictures. These films presented groups of children to harness humanitarian sentiment in support of the ideology and activities of the UN. While the figure of the child acquired new cultural and political significance in the era of the United Nations’ wartime and post-war endeavours in humanitarianism, the presentation and performances of Hollywood’s juvenile actors simultaneously became subject to new modes of moral apprehension and aesthetic evaluation.
This chapter pinpoints 27 December 1601 as the date of the first performance of Twelfth Night – and demonstrates that Shakespeare wrote his play for two audiences, one at Elizabeth’s Court, the other at the Inns of Court.
This chapter identifies some of Shakespeare’s unrecognized tributes to friends, former patrons, and others who were dear to him.
The United States Peace Corps in the early 1960s
This chapter focuses on the United States Peace Corp and explores the nature and effects of the Peace Corps’ publicity, media and popular culture portrayals during the 1960s. It shows how the Peace Corps rendered international development into a topic for mainstream discussion and public engagement, and traces some of the political outcomes of this publicity. By focusing on volunteers’ altruistic intentions Peace Corps publicity portrayed international development as a humanitarian project. Presenting US intervention as a positive expression of American altruism, the Peace Corps helped popularise the view that America had a responsibility to modernise the ‘underdeveloped’ nations of the world. This chapter argues that, by privileging American viewpoints and eliding competing visions, Peace Corps publicity helped normalise the logic of intervention.
Cinema, news media and perception management of the Gaza conflicts
This chapter examines media coverage of the Gaza conflicts and considers what occurs when humanitarian images of Palestinian casualties take centre stage. The chapter argues that a media outcome that appears to be favourable to the Palestinians, in that it focuses on their suffering, can actually have the opposite effect. Addressing UK, US and Israeli news media, as well as popular television and the documentary films Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008) and Where Should the Birds Fly (Fida Qishta, 2013), the chapter addresses the ways ‘perception management’ can serve to divorce the public from realities of state violence through a kind of cinematic derealisation that enables states to reduce perceptions of blame for their atrocities and act with impunity.
Lamine Kane, Aliou Guissé and Latyr Diouf
Lamine Kane and Juliet Millican used a travel grant from the British Council to meet for exploratory discussions in Dakar with members of sub-Saharan Africa Participatory Action Research Network (REPAS), the Department of Applied Economics (ENEA) at Cheikh Diop University (UCAD), and nearby local communities. These discussions led to the joint preparation of a full project proposal, which was funded by a partnership grant from the British Council. It was against the backdrop that the partners launched their new project. The initiative aimed to pilot a new six-month postgraduate course for students from Cheikh Anta Diop University and ENEA leading to a Certificate in Community Engagement for Employability and Entrepreneurship. Senegal is a former French colony and Dakar was the base from which France conceived and implemented its 'assimilation policy', which aimed to make Senegalese citizens French and to integrate them into the French culture and nation.