Elite Migration: Rockefeller Fellows in Public Health during the Interwar Period

Saturday, January 4, 2014: 11:50 AM
Washington Room 4 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Thomas David, University of Lausanne
Davide Rodogno, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Yi-Tang Lin, University of Lausanne
During the twentieth century, one of the aims of U.S. philanthropic foundations was the creation of international/transnational networks to enhance the circulation of knowledge and the formation of experts worldwide and to expand the American sphere of influence. During the interwar period, public health came to represent one of the main fields of activities of philanthropic foundations abroad. The Rockefeller Foundation played a central role through its International Health Division.

Our research will focus on the individuals who benefited from the fellowships and travel grants. Scholarships were awarded to young foreign scholars to complete their trainings for a period ranging from several months to three years. Thanks to these fellowships, a migration of numerous professionals originating worldwide and going mainly to United States universities took place.

The study of the recipients of these fellowships, who might well be considered as temporary migrants, will allow us to:

1) study the impact of the beneficiaries of these fellowships in the setting up or consolidating public health systems at the national/regional levels;

2) determine the extent to which public health experts contributed to the setting up of international and/or transnational networks. By international networks we refer to inter-governmental networks, which were generally set up within the framework of international (intragovernmental) institutions. By transnational networks we refer to formal and/or informal contacts between experts unrelated to government activities or initiatives.

3) analyze the impact of this experience as a category of “elite migrants.”