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Zuleykha Mailzada

Zuleykha Mailzada is a PhD Candidate at Freie University in Berlin. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, she spent most of her adult life between the UK and Germany.

Zuleykha has a vast interdisciplinary teaching experience in areas of politics, sociology, economic and social history, and sociology. She taught in the University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde and delivers courses in the sociology department at LMU.

Before joining academia, Zuleykha had extensive experience working with non-governmental organisations in London and Heidelberg on issues of social policies, social inclusion, human rights, organisational development and management.



The Transformation Of Soviet Centre-Periphery Relations and the Soviet Management of Infectious Diseases in The Brezhnev Era.


This is a historical and interdisciplinary study encompassing Soviet history, political epidemiology, and global health. The thesis addresses the following question:

- How did the global prioritisation of infectious diseases management reshape centre-periphery governance in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s?


By examining the management of infectious diseases in the USSR, this research aims to historically explore the transformation of centre-periphery power relations in the USSR in the Brezhnev-era (1964-1982). While the impact of the Soviet and socialist internationalisation of public health has recently gained substantial attention in the Cold War and global health literature (Geltzer, 2012; Basilico et al., 2013; Birn et al., 2016; Grant, 2017; Solomon, 2018; Vargha, 2018), the role of the USSR’s republics in these international efforts remains under-studied. The thesis aims to fill this gap. To explain why and how the Soviet authoritarian regime’s responses were shaped alongside its global engagement to manage infectious diseases, the thesis offers a historical analysis in the context of the policies introduced by Leonid Brezhnev between 1964 and 1982. I argue that Brezhnev’s reforms contributed to emerging collective mechanisms of social control in addition to the socialist rationale of managing and combating infectious diseases. The thesis aims to explore the concepts of collective intentionality in decision-making processes and biopolitics in the management of infectious diseases, and the ways in which these decisions shaped social and political control. I will examine the applicability of these concepts to the post-Stalin regime in the USSR, that continued to appropriate authoritarian forms of governance while globally advancing the discourse of emancipatory socialist rationality of universal public health Historically situated, the thesis thus investigates the relationships between the efforts of the Soviet Union to manage infectious diseases at the international level, and the ways in which these efforts evolved in the semi-peripheral republics during the 1960s and 1970s. How did Brezhnev’s policies impact collective responses and bargaining power in relation to public health concerns and infectious diseases in the context of global processes, especially when the Soviet Union embraced efforts to advance universal public health on the international agenda?


By examining archival material and journal publications from this particular Soviet era, the research draws on multifaceted approaches including history of Soviet biopolitics, political epidemiology and collective intentionality. The theoretical framework diverges from methodological individualism to offer a global history approach. The research offers a more complex, downward, causal explanation (Elder-Vass, 2010) of emerging collective authority and actors in this period. In highlighting the intersection of the Soviet approach to infectious diseases research aims to contribute to several scholarly domains by exploring the intersections between Soviet history, authoritarian regimes and technologies of imperial control.