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Julia Nebe, Enno Schwanke & Dominik Groß: The Influence of Epidemics on the Concept of the Bogeyman: Images, Ideological Origins, and Interdependencies of the Anti-Vaccination Movement; The Example of the Political Agitator Paul Arthur Förster (1844–1925). [Abstract]

Epidemics have always deeply affected societies. They almost inevitably lead to negotiations of questions referring to identity, belonging, and foreignness. Furthermore, epidemics create bogeymen. The biographical study by Prof. Dr. Paul Arthur Förster, founder of the first German association of vaccination opponents and an enthusiastic “völkisch” and anti-Semitic agitator, stands here as a prototype for a multitude of vaccination opponents and should help us to understand what kind of influence epidemics have on the creation of bogeyman. In a second step, the question of bogeyman highlights the underlying aspects of the anti-vaccination movement. It directly leads to relating questions concerning ideological proximity of anti-vaccinism to the milieu critical of scientific medicine, with its numerous organizations of alternative medicine and its associations.

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