Alma Igra

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, Columbia University
2017 to 2018
Research Fellow

 Calculating the Substance of Human Life: The Emergence of Nutritional Studies in Britain 1918-1941

My dissertation traces the origins of Human Nutrition as a scientific discipline in Britain from the end of World War I to the early years of World War II. During this period, a transnational network of experts cultivated knowledge, resources and political influence and articulated human needs in new ways. In the brief course of two decades, the science of nutrition became a cornerstone in national and international policy and shifted modern concepts of public health and economic well-being. Nutritionists gained authority in international politics, offering something that diplomats simply could not: a scientifically calculated plan for a world of economic plenty and political stability. My research aims to explain how competing visions of human needs played out in the early formation of this discipline, and how British national specializations in nutrition informed diplomatic discussions in the League of Nations.