Nursing Education and the International Philanthropic Sphere in Interwar Southeast Europe

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Nursing History Review

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In the interwar period, nursing was one of the most mobile women’s occupations. Nursing education became part of the gendered transnational and regional circulation of people, ideas, practices, money, and power relations. These exchanges were facilitated by the international philanthropic sphere. This article seeks to highlight interrelated developments in nursing education in Southeast Europe (Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia) within a comparative regional framework. Drawing on multilingual primary sources, I argue that the promotion of professional nursing training was appealing to all Balkan states. However, the success of the international impact varied due to local constellations of factors, such as the influence of national branches of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, prior nursing practices and gender norms, royal endorsement, and government involvement. While the international philanthropy contributed to raising the status of nursing, its focus on women as nurses also contributed to maintaining the feminized (and low-paid) dimension of the profession.

Keywords: Eastern Europe, education, League of Red Cross Societies, nursing, Red Cross, Rockefeller Foundation, philanthropy, women


© Springer; American Association for the History of Nursing

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