Johanna Conterio

Associate Professor - Historie
Image of Johanna Conterio
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22858828
Room 513
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 Niels Treschows hus 0851 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1008 Blindern 0315 Oslo
Other affiliations The International Summer School (Student) Institutt for pedagogikk (Student)

Academic interests

I am an environmental historian of Modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with a geographical research focus on the "subtropical" south and the Black Sea, in transnational and international context. I am especially interested in intersections between environment and health, nature protection, urban planning, and maritime environments.

My first book, Therapeutic Natures: Environment and Health in the Soviet Sanatorium, 1917-1991 (currently under peer review), is a history of the sanatorium covering the entire Soviet period. It examines how medical research produced environmental knowledge in the past, and how this environmental knowledge shaped the medical practice, architecture, urban planning, and landscapes of the sanatorium and the rise of ecological self-understanding and consciousness in society. This study applies theoretical frameworks developed in the “post-Pasteurian” turn in environmental humanities, emphasizing the interconnection of the human body and the environment and between textual, material, and embodied knowledges and experiences. I argue that the rise of bacteriology did not lead to a paradigm shift away from the environmental dimensions of disease in Soviet medicine, as occurred in other contexts within scientific medicine particularly after the discovery of antibiotics. A distinctly socialist form of natural healing developed in the Soviet Union, which had its origins in Central European natural healing practices and international socialist politics. The Soviet approach to medicine was not backward, but rather constituted a socialist variant within the shared experience of scientific medicine in the twentieth century.

I am the curator of a forum on 'The Black Sea World and the Question of Boundaries', published in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian Studies, drawing on a workshop that I convened on 'The Black Sea in the Socialist World' at Birkbeck in 2015.


I have a PhD and MA in History from Harvard University and a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. Before coming to Oslo, I was a Lecturer in International and European History at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and a post-doctoral research fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London.


2022-2024 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers

2020-2021 Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany

2019 Title VIII Summer Research Scholar, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

2017 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow in the Laureate Research Program in International History, The University of Sydney

2013-2014 Dumbarton Oaks Dissertation Completion Fellowship

2011-2012 Foreign Language and Area Studies Research Fellowship (U.S. Department of Education)


2015 Wellcome Trust Small Grant in the Medical Humanities

2015 Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities Conference Organisation Grant

2015 Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference Organisation Grant

2015 British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Conference Organisation Grant

2010-2011 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Award (U.S. Department of State)



Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • “Controlling Land, Controlling People: Urban Greening and the Territorial Turn in Theories of Urban Planning in the Soviet Union, 1931–1932.” Journal of Urban History 48, no. 3 (May 2022): 479–503.
  • “Curative Nature: Medical Foundations of Soviet Nature Protection, 1917–1941.” Slavic Review 78, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 23–49.
  • “‘Our Black Sea Coast’: The Sovietization of the Black Sea Littoral under Khrushchev and the Problem of Overdevelopment.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 19, no. 2 (Spring 2018): 327–361.
  • “Places of Plenty: Patient Perspectives on Nutrition and Health in the Health Resorts of the USSR, 1917–1953.” Food & History 14, no. 1 (2016): 113–140.
  • “Beyond Liberal Internationalism.” Contemporary European History 25, no. 2 (May 2016): 359–371. With Ana Antic and Dora Vargha.
  • “Inventing the Subtropics: An Environmental History of Sochi, 1928–1936.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 16, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 91–120.'

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

  • “Heating the Groves: Imported Technology, Transnational Scientific Networks and the Acclimatization of Citrus in the USSR, 1928-1941,” in Objects in Motion: Globalizing Technology, ed. Bryan Dewalt and Nina Möllers (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2016), 22-34.
Tags: Environmental History, International History, History of Medicine, Microbe Studies, Disease Ecology, Environment and Health, Urban History, Environmental Humanities, History of Science


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Published July 1, 2022 8:59 AM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2022 9:07 AM