Department of History

Public Health in Transition Health Care at the End of the Habsburg Empire (1918–1924) (PH in Transition – HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01, No. 101068435)


Code and Title: Public Health in Transition: Health Care at the End of the Habsburg Empire (1918–1924) – HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01, No. 101068435
Duration: 1.10.2022 – 30.9.2024
Fellow: Dr. Francesco Toncich
Main supervisor: Prof. Marta Verginella, Ph.D.
Funding body: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
Host organisation: Department of History at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana

The project “Public Health in Transition” investigates the transition of the public health system of the multinational Habsburg Empire in successor national states during and after the Empire’s collapse at the end of WWI. The project’s aim is to analyse how health institutions dealt with epidemic diseases and mental illnesses resulting from the war and geopolitical upheavals, which reshaped the sense of self and created identity disorientation. As a case study, it focuses on the macro-area between the former imperial capital city Vienna, the main Slovenian urban centre Ljubljana, and the principal Habsburg port-city Trieste/Trst. The fragmentation of this common space is observed by comparing three models of transition of the common Habsburg public healthcare system in the three corresponding successor national states: the Austrian Republic, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS-Kingdom), and the Italian Kingdom. Three models of adapting strategies are examined simultaneously from a regional, a national and an international perspective. The research spans from the summer of 1918 until the middle of 1924 – that is, from the establishment of national councils in the different regions of the collapsing Monarchy until the final diplomatic adjustments between Italy and the SHS-Kingdom with the Treaty of Rome, which brought an end to the international crisis concerning the free city of Fiume/Rijeka and established the geopolitical shape of the whole North-Eastern Adriatic area.

The project is developed with the prof. Marta Verginella and hosted by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana.

Dr. Francesco Toncich



Since 10/2022              Post-Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Arts at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia – Marie-Skłodowska-Curie fellow for HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01-01.

Project: Public Health in Transition. Health Care at the End of the Habsburg Empire (1918–1924).

                                    Supervisor: Prof. Marta Verginella.

09/2020 – 8/2021         Post-Ph.D. candidate, Research Centre for Comparative European History (CRHEC) at University Paris East-Créteil (UPEC), France.

                                    Supervisor: Prof. Catherine Brice.

11/2015 – 7/2019         Ph.D. candidate, Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology at the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, Germany.

Ph.D. Thesis: Istrien: Die Geschichte der (Ent-)Mischung einer Region (1840–1914). Die “Wissenschaft des Küstenlandes” als ordnungsstiftender Faktor zwischen kultureller Diversität und Hybridität / Istria: The History of (De-)Mixing a Region (1840–1914). The “Science of the Littoral” as Factor of Identification between Cultural Diversity and Hybridity.

Supervisor: Prof. Reinhard Johler.

                                    Awarded: Magna cum Laude.

03/2011 – 10/2015       Master of Arts in Eastern European History, University of Vienna, Austria.

MA Thesis: Die Entstehung und Verbreitung der italienischsprachigen antislawischen Propaganda in Triest (1840–1871) / The Establishment and Development of Italian Language Anti-Slavic Propaganda in Trieste (1840–1871).

Supervisor: Prof. Alojz Ivanišević.

Awarded: First Class.

10/2007 – 11/2010       Bachelor of Arts in History at University of Trieste, Italy.

                                    BA Thesis: La ricezione del “caso Oberdank” e del primo irredentismo nella stampa Viennese (Agosto 1882–gennaio 1883) / The Reception of the “Oberdank Case” and the First Irredentism in the Viennese Press (August 1882–January 1883).

                                    Supervisor: Prof. Tullia Catalan.

Degree Award: 110/110 (equivalent to 1st class honours).


Professional Experience

11/2015 – 12/2019       Scientific Researcher for the Collaborative Research Centre 923 “Threatened Order - Societies under Stress”, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen.

2015 – 2021                 Scientific collaborator for a new edition of the Austrian Biographical Lexicon (1815-1950), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.

11/2014 – 05/2015       Trainee researcher at the Institute for Modern and Contemporary History, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.


Research fields           Modern and Contemporary History; Political, Cultural and Social History; Cultural and Historical Anthropology; History of the Habsburg Monarchy (1800–1918) and its successor states after 1918; History of the North-Eastern Adriatic Area; History of Science and Medicine; Cultural Diversity and Hybridity.






Istrien 1840–1914. Eine kulturelle Versuchsstation des Habsburgerreiches, Mohr Siebek, Tübingen 2021.



Inside and Outside the Habsburg Public Health System. Managing Complexity within the Austrian Littoral (1849–1880s) – forthcoming in: Annales, Series Historia et Sociologia.

Istria between Purity and Hybridity: The Creation of the Istrian Region Through the Scientific Research in the Long 19th Century, in Acta Histriae 28/4, 2020, p. 541–576.

Narrazioni e pratiche politiche antislave a Trieste tra città e campagna (1850-1871), in Acta Histriae, 25/3, 2017, p. 539-562.

Il “caso Oberdank” visto da Vienna: stampa e libellistica austriache tra Otto e Novecento, in Qualestoria, 39/2, 2011, p. 25–41.

Several biographies for Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon (1815–1950), Verlang der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 2015–2017.