Soviet medical internationalism amid destalinization, 1953-1958

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This article reconstructs the story of the Soviet Union's medical internationalism amid the early years of destalinization, when it re-engaged more actively in the global health community. How did the USSR attempt to leverage medicine as a tool of soft power in both multilateral and bilateral relations? Based on records of the USSR Ministry of Health and the Medical Workers Union, as well as newspapers and other published sources, it analyzes what destalinization meant for physicians and public health administrators who sought greater exchange with and connection to their colleagues abroad. A widening web of interconnections in this transitional period paved the way to greater integration in a global medical community. Soviet medical and health professionals nurtured international relationships with a range of strategies, expectations, and aspirations. They used these opportunities to learn, and also to speak back to their superiors and to shape the trajectories of domestic research agendas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-63
Number of pages24
JournalThe Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Cold War
  • destalinization
  • medical internationalism
  • soft power
  • World Health Organization

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