Concepts of ‘balance’ have been central to modern politics, medicine and society.
Yet, while many health, environmental and social challenges are discussed
globally in terms of imbalances in biological, social and ecological systems,
strategies for addressing modern excesses and deficiencies have focused almost
exclusively on the agency of the individual. Balancing the Self explores the
diverse ways in which balanced and unbalanced selfhoods have been subject to
construction, intervention and challenge across the long twentieth century.
Through original chapters on subjects as varied as obesity control, fatigue and
the regulation of work, and the physiology of exploration in extreme conditions,
the volume analyses how concepts of balance and rhetorics of empowerment and
responsibility have historically been used for a variety of purposes, by a
diversity of political and social agencies. Historicising present-day concerns,
as well as uncovering the previously hidden interests of the past, this volume’s
wide-ranging discussions of health governance, subjectivity and balance will be
of interest to historians of medicine, sociologists, social policy analysts, and
social and political historians alike.
. Through its investigations into the diverse life of ‘balance’, therefore, the volume not only contributes to the cultural history of an everyday concept, but also generates insights into the history of healthgovernance and subjectivity and into the close connections between medicine, politics and the regulation of social life.
In her address to the 61st World Health Assembly in May 2008, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Margaret Chan, concluded her analysis of current threats to
education, public health, governance, municipal reform, policing and
town planning. Instead I intend to focus on what was perceived to be the
most threatening antitheses to progress, namely, the metropolitan poor
and colonial peoples. In terms of their chronologies, rhetoric,
narratives and agencies there were distinct homologies between the
discursive appropriation of the poor and of colonial
controversial across the world. 31 These are still rare exceptions, and until now there has not been such a comprehensive review of the public and vaccination in post-war Britain.
There are also works that have explored the relationship between the public and public health in the United Kingdom. There is a well-established scholarship on such matters in the nineteenth century and on the changing nature of public healthgovernance in the first half of the twentieth century. 32 For the period after 1945, there is growing interest in the meaning of the
Paul Greenough, Stuart Blume and Christine Holmberg
of Immunity ; T. J. Keefe and M.
W. Zacher, The Politics of Global HealthGovernance: United by Contagion
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); R. Packard, ‘Post-colonial
Medicine’, Cooter and Pickstone (eds), Companion Encyclopedia
Medicine in the Twentieth Century , pp. 97–112.