Bulletin of the History of Medicine
• The preprints available below have not been typeset or paginated, and further edits are possible. They will be removed from this website once the issues in which they appear are published in print and on MUSE.
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“Womb with a View”: The Introduction of Western Obstetrics in Nineteenth-Century Siam
By: Quentin (Trais) Pearson
(Posted January 4, 2016)
SUMMARY: This article focuses on the historical confrontation between Western obstetrical medicine and indigenous midwifery in nineteenth-century Siam (Thailand). Beginning with the campaign of medical missionaries to reform Siamese obstetrical care, it explores the types of arguments that were employed in the contest between these two forms of expert knowledge. Missionary–physicians used their anatomical knowledge to contest both particular indigenous obstetrical practices and more generalized notions concerning its moral and metaphysical foundations. At the same time, by appealing to the health and well-being of the consorts and children of the Siamese elite, they gained access to the intimate spaces of Siamese political life. The article contends that the medical missionary campaign intersected with imperial desires to make the sequestered spaces of Siamese political life more visible and accessible to Western scrutiny. It therefore reveals the imbrication of contests over obstetrical medicine and trade diplomacy in the imperial world.
KEYWORDS: midwifery, obstetrical medicine, Western medicine, medical missionaries, Thailand, Dan Beach Bradley
Hong Kong Junk: Plague and the Economy of Chinese Things
By: Robert Peckham
(Posted January 11, 2016)
SUMMARY: Histories of the Third Plague Pandemic, which diffused globally from China in the 1890s, have tended to focus on colonial efforts to regulate the movement of infected populations, on the state’s draconian public health measures, and on the development of novel bacteriological theories of disease causation. In contrast, this article focuses on the plague epidemic in Hong Kong and examines colonial preoccupations with Chinese “things” as sources of likely contagion. In the 1890s, laboratory science invested plague with a new identity as an object to be collected, cultivated, and depicted in journals. At the same time, in the increasingly vociferous anti-opium discourse, opium was conceived as a contagious Chinese commodity: a plague. The article argues that rethinking responses to the plague through the history of material culture can further our understanding of the political consequences of disease’s entanglement with economic and racial categories, while demonstrating the extent to which colonial agents “thought through things.”
KEYWORDS: plague, bacteriology, things, material culture, opium, ruins, photography, China
Between the Bazaar and the Bench: Making of the Drugs Trade in Colonial India, ca. 1900–1930
By: Nandini Bhattacharya
(Posted January 4, 2016)
SUMMARY: This article analyzes why adulteration became a key trope of the Indian drug market. Adulteration had a pervasive presence, being present in medical discourses, public opinion and debate, and the nationalist claim for government intervention. The article first situates the roots of adulteration in the composite nature of this market, which involved the availability of drugs of different potencies as well as the presence of multiple layers of manufacturers, agents, and distributors. It then shows that such a market witnessed the availability of drugs of diverse potency and strengths, which were understood as elements of adulteration in contemporary medical and official discourse. Although contemporary critics argued that the lack of government legislation and control allowed adulteration to sustain itself, this article establishes that the culture of the dispensation of drugs in India necessarily involved a multitude of manufacturer-retailers, bazaar traders, and medical professionals practicing a range of therapies.
KEYWORDS: drugs trade, Ayurveda, bazaar medicine, adulteration, colonial India, medical market, Drugs Enquiry Committee, indigenous drugs
Residential Treatment and the Invention of the Emotionally Disturbed Child in Twentieth-Century America
By: Deborah Blythe Doroshow
(Posted January 4, 2016)
SUMMARY: In the 1930s, children who were violent, depressed, psychotic, or suicidal would likely have been labeled delinquent and sent to a custodial training school for punitive treatment. But starting in the 1940s, a new group of institutions embarked on a new experiment to salvage and treat severely deviant children. In the process, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers at these residential treatment centers (RTCs) made visible, and indeed invented, a new patient population. This article uses medical literature, popular media, and archival sources from several RTCs to argue that staff members created what they called the “emotionally disturbed” child. While historians have described the identification of the mildly “troublesome” child in child guidance clinics, I demonstrate how a much more severely ill child was identified and defined in the process of creating residential treatment and child mental health as a professional enterprise.
KEYWORDS: child psychiatry, residential treatment, emotionally disturbed, mental illness