Trust and authority below the hatches
in Health, medicine, and the sea
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This chapter shows how contemporary mistrust of medical authority, so apparent on land among the labouring classes, travelled to sea in respect of practices such as post-mortem examination and vaccination. During the 1830s, when the British government began to provide assistance to emigrants who wished to sail to Australia, vaccination practices at sea also changed. Travelling with vaccine lymph brought naval surgeons into a prestigious global network of medical exchange. For surgeons, voyages provided a space to experiment with remedies, vaccinations, and anatomical examinations. However, these practices also exemplify the questions about compulsion, consent, trust, and medical intervention. While the surgeons' official instructions codified his authority, they could not account for the more intangible elements of medical relationships. Australian voyages bind together the histories of medicine, social power, colonialism, and migration across national borders and geographical space.

Health, medicine, and the sea

Australian Voyages, c. 1815-1860


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