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The state of tooth decay

Tid Fredag 24 april, 2020 kl. 13:15 - 15:00
Plats Distansseminarium via Zoom

Högre seminariet i historia och idéhistoria bjuder in till seminarium med Jonatan Samuelsson som lägger fram ett kapitelutkast, “The state of tooth decay: The Norrköping fluoridation study and the co-production of dental knowledge and politics in Sweden 1952-1962”.

Distansseminarium via Zoom. Deltagarlänk skickas ut via epost till personal inom historia och idéhistoria en vecka innan seminariet. Övriga intresserade kan få deltagarlänk genom att kontakta seminarieansvariga.

Obs! Annan tid än vanligt (eftermiddag).


In the 1950s an extensive drinking water fluoridation study was conducted in secrecy in the Swedish town of Norrköping. A network of prominent scientists coalesced around the study, eventually manging to turn its aims into national political ambitions in the making of the 1962 Water Fluoridation Act – a law which, although it was never put to use, was explicitly created to enable the Norrköping study to continue, after it had been deemed illegal by a national court. The present chapter explores this study and argues that the combined scientific and public health underpinnings of the fluoridation were crucial throughout the process, especially in rendering the bill palatable to lawmakers, making this an illuminating case for studying the broader entanglement of science and the state. Following an account of the origins and setup of the trials and the surrounding network of researchers, the chapter turns to the work of the members of this network to gain political acceptance for fluoridation. Finally, the study’s cessation and the making of the law are discussed, highlighting the balancing of scientific and political rationality required to succeed in the latter. In sum, the chapter addresses aspects of post-war medical science in service of the burgeoning Swedish welfare state, and state surveillance in connection to public health. 

Om seminarieserien

Seminarieserien Högre seminariet i historia och idéhistoria är främst till för att ventilera avhandlingsavsnitt och annan forskning inom historia och idéhistoria vid institutionen för idé- och samhällsstudier.
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