The importance of the historical perspective for social thinking in health: the contributions of Madel Luz and Emerson Merhy

Abstract This article examines the work of two authors who represent academic production on collective health from 1970 to 1980: Madel Luz and Emerson Merhy. Their theoretical production was based on Marxist studies and Michel Foucault, and centered on history. The object of this analysis was this particular aspect, which became important to the field of collective health, since the authors broke with previous positivist and evolutionist thinking on health. Although Luz and Merhy reiterated the ideas and methodological approaches of their predecessors, they were part of the group that launched a critical historiography in the field of health. Studying works like these builds understanding on the relevance of historicity in the relationship between collective health, politics, learning, and practice.