Request Inspection Copy

If you are an Academic or Teacher and wish to consider this book as a prescribed textbook for your course, you may be eligible for a complimentary inspection copy. Please complete this form, including information about your position, campus and course, before adding to cart.

* Required Fields

To complete your Inspection Copy Request you will need to click the Checkout button in the right margin and complete the checkout formalities. You can include Inspection Copies and purchased items in the same shopping cart, see our Inspection Copy terms for further information.

Any Questions? Please email our text Support Team on


Email this to a friend

* ALL required Fields

Order Inspection Copy

An inspection copy has been added to your shopping cart

Silicosis: A World History

by Paul-Andre Rosental Johns Hopkins University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 296 pages
AU$99.00 NZ$103.48
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
add to your cart
Despite the common perception that "black lung" has been relegated to the dustbin of history, silicosis remains a crucial public health problem that threatens millions of people around the world. This painful and incurable chronic disease, still present in old industrial regions, is now expanding rapidly in emerging economies around the globe. Most industrial sectors - including the metallurgical, glassworking, foundry, stonecutting, building, and tunneling industries - expose their workers to lethal crystalline silica dust. Dental prosthodontists are also at risk, as are sandblasters, pencil factory workers in developing nations, and anyone who handles concentrated sand squirt to clean oil tanks, build ships, or fade blue jeans.


In Silicosis, eleven experts argue that silicosis is more than one of the most pressing global health concerns today - it is an epidemic in the making. Essays explain how the understanding of the disease has been shaken by new medical findings and technologies, developments in industrializing countries, and the spread of the disease to a wide range of professions beyond coal mining. Examining the global reactions to silicosis, the authors trace the history of the disease and show how this occupational health hazard first came to be recognized as well as the steps that were necessary to deal with it at that time.


Adopting a global perspective, Silicosis offers comparative insights into a variety of different medical and political strategies to combat silicosis. It also analyzes the importance of transnational processes - carried on by international organizations and NGOs and sparked by waves of migrant labor - which have been central to the history of silicosis since the early twentieth century. Ultimately, by bringing together historians and physicians from around the world, Silicosis pioneers a new collective method of writing the global history of disease. Aimed at legal and public health scholars, physicians, political economists, social scientists, historians, and all readers concerned by labor and civil society movements in the contemporary world, this book contains lessons that will be applicable not only to people working on combating silicosis but also to people examining other occupational diseases now and in the future.


Contributors: Alberto Baldasseroni, Francesco Carnevale, Éric Geerkens, Martin Lengwiler, Gerald Markowitz, Jock McCulloch, Joseph Melling, Julia Moses, Paul-André Rosental, David Rosner, Bernard Thomann


Preface vii

  Introduction. Why Silicosis? 1

Paul- André Rosental

 1 Why Is Silicosis So Impor tant? 14

Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner

 2 The Genesis and Development of the Scientific Concept of Pulmonary Silicosis during the Nineteenth Century 30

Alberto Baldasseroni and Francesco Carnevale

 3 Johannesburg and Beyond: Silicosis as a Transnational and Imperial Disease, 1900–1940 64

Jock McCulloch and Paul- André Rosental, with Joe Melling

 4 The Politics of Recognition and Its Limitations: A National or Transnational Pro cess? 105

Martin Lengwiler and Julia Moses, with Bernard Thomann and Joseph Melling

 5 Silicosis and “Silicosis”: Minimizing Compensation Costs; or, Why Occupational Diseases Cost So  Little 141

Paul- André Rosental and Bernard Thomann

 6 Silica or Coal? Design and Implementation of Dust Prevention in the Collieries in Western Economies, ca. 1930–1980 174

Éric Geerkens

  Conclusion. Silica, Silicosis, and Occupational Health in the Globalized World of the Twenty- First  Century 207

Francesco Carnevale, Paul- André Rosental, and Bernard Thomann

Bibliography 235

List of Contributors 265


"Bringing together a cross-disciplinary, international group of scholars to address the topic of silica-caused lung disease from a varied set of perspectives, Silicosis cogently and convincingly argues that the International Silicosis Conference of 1930 played a pivotal role in the history of this disease."

- Paul Blanc, MSPH, MD, University of California School of Medicine San Francisco

Paul-André Rosental is a professor of contemporary history at Sciences Po and a fellow scholar at the Institut National d’Études Démographiques. He is the author of Destins de l’eugénisme and a coauthor of La Santé au travail: 1880–2006.