This article discusses possible dialogues between medical history and the history of concepts, suggesting that a “socio-conceptual-moral” history of medicine offers insightful elements for the historical analysis of conceptual change. Drawing mainly from Reinhart Koselleck's Begriffsgeschichte and Ludwik Fleck's theory of knowledge, I focus on three points of the “socio-conceptual-moral” perspective: the approach to medical statements as part of a semantic field, the interaction between a formulated concept and its practice, and negotiations about the meanings of medical concepts between different social arenas. I take the history of cancer prevention in Brazil as a case study to discuss these three aspects and emphasize the situated character of conceptual change. The article analyzes the period between the 1960s and the 1990s when substantial changes in the conceptual framework of cancer prevention confronted continuities in public health and medicine practices, policies, and institutions.
Luiz Alves Araújo Neto is a postdoctoral researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Brazil). ORCID