Sara Silverstein is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern European and International History at Yale University and a Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.
My presentation will consider how transnationalism informed the development of services provided for citizens in the new European nation-states created after the First World War and will address the interconnection of state-building and development of international institutions. Focusing on the emergence of a transnational network of Eastern European doctors and health workers, I will explore their evolving understanding of the purpose and responsibilities of nation-states and of the international community, and how their concept of healthcare services interacted with questions of ideology, nationalism, and rights. During this period of social and political experimentation, this group of health workers moved beyond traditional welfare services, redefining the meaning of rights to physical and social wellbeing in the modern state and the transnational European community. Facing the authoritarian turn of their states in the 1930s, a number of these doctors chose exile and subsequently worked to institute standards for health services at an international level. By the outbreak of the Second World War, their experiments retreated to the shadows but their contributions endure as the foundation of many national and international institutions.