From the 1930 International Johannesburg conference on silicosis, to “tables” of occupational diseases, France, 2000 onward: A comparative reading
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
59 - 66 p.
occupational diseases, silica, silicosis, dust diseases, Johannesburg, France, Ludwik Fleck, compensation
Through the concept of “thought collectives” in particular, Ludwik Fleck was a pioneer in demonstrating how much scientific knowledge is inherently made up of social and historical material. In this article, I propose to follow a Fleckian path by comparing the proceedings of the 1930 International Labour Office Conference on silicosis in Johannesburg on the one hand, and on the other the content of the debates that took place in France in the 2000s to revise the “tables” of occupational diseases which define the compensation rules for salaried workers in the French general (as well as the farm) health insurance scheme. The text offers an analysis of the striking similarities between these two distant sources, pointing out particularly the repetitiveness of ignorance and knowledge, and the nature of what can be admitted as a body of “evidence” in medico-legal issues such as the definition and compensation of occupational diseases. Am. J. Ind. Med. 58:S59–S66, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.