Historisches Seminar



History of Cancer in the Soviet Union since the 1950s

Dissertationsprojekt von Irina Andryushchenko

Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Andreas Renner


In the early 1950s, the Soviet Academy of Sciences began to collect data on the incidence of cancer. According to these statistics, cancer accounted for one-quarter of all deaths in 1989. The finding led to intense controversies about the aetiology of cancer, often centring around the role of chemical and radioactive pollutants. The objectives of the dissertation project are as follows:
1. work out how controversies about the possible environmental causes of cancer mobilized people to engage in public discussions and to convey their concerns to authorities and factories;
2. examine the role of cancer education in health campaigns (through films and exhibitions) and to investigate how this prevention policy served as an instrument of a “new morality” to achieve behavioural changes and demand more self-responsibility from citizens;
3. determine whether gender-specific discourses and practices of mobilisation and healing accompanied the chemicalisation of the body and the treatment of cancer;
4. address the popularity of alternative healing methods and elaborate how doctors and medical scientists reacted to the growing popularity of alternative medicine to maintain their own authority and prestige.