CFP: Defining the Neglected Tropical Diseases: Research, Development, and Global Health Equity, 1970-present

April 1-2, 2019, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA

This workshop seeks to catalyze new conversations on the history, present, and future of the “neglected tropical diseases” (NTDs) in an innovative, multi-disciplinary gathering.   The NTDs are a cluster of infectious diseases categorized by their impact on an estimated one billion people in 149 countries worldwide.  These diseases are generally characterized by their high morbidity and low mortality and are strongly associated with poverty.  NTD-focused campaigns have accelerated rapidly in the past two decades, with U.S. funding alone topping $887 million since 2006.  Regional elimination or global eradication are often the end goal of these initiatives, coordinated by local and global NGOs, development organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and national ministries of health.  The stakes of success or failure are high – in the twenty-first century, the NTDs have become a powerful operative and imaginative category in global public health.

NTD initiatives and advocates explicitly take aim at addressing health disparities that have been created or sustained by policymaking and research priorities in the past.  But while a sense of history underlies the NTD category, there is urgent need for critical conversations and interdisciplinary scholarship on the category’s origins, its evolution, and its current and future trajectories. The multi-sectorial nature of NTD work provides a unique opportunity for dialogue between scholars and practitioners in the humanities, social sciences, public health, law, and medicine around the complex challenges these diseases present.

Call for papers

Workshop participants will discuss research in progress and ideally engage broader questions, including: what watershed moments have shaped ideas and practices around the NTDs, and why?  How have new ways of thinking about illness, suffering, knowledge, and equity developed around the NTDs since the 1970s?  How can scholars and practitioners critically engage with the concept of “neglect” and how this contingent and subjective status is established or resolved?  What are the implications of the “tropical” for public health policy and practice in the 21st century?  How has the cutting edge of NTD research changed in the past decades, and why?  How do NTD initiatives compliment or compete with ongoing infectious and non-communicable disease interventions, and with what consequences?  How can critical scholarship and practice orient to the diverse priorities of communities targeted by NTD initiatives?  Research projects regarding the NTD category generally or specific diseases/policies involved are welcome.

This multi-disciplinary workshop will include research-focused panels and roundtable discussions, hosted by the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh and convened by Prof. Mari Webel of the Department of History.  We welcome participants and papers from across the disciplines.  If you are interested in discussing your research, please send a title/topic and brief (200-word) description to Mari Webel ( and Veronica Dristas ( by Feb. 6, 2019.

Deadline: February 6, 2019

Posted: January 31, 2019