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The limits of Britain’s medicalised borders, 1962–1981
Roberta Bivins

Like their peers across western Europe, Australia and the Americas, large segments of the British public and a significant proportion of Britain’s medical establishment have enthusiastically promoted medical screening (and de facto medical selection) of would-be migrants since World War II. Moreover, from 1962, British law explicitly empowered medical inspection and the exclusion of migrants on health grounds at all three of Britain’s idiosyncratic ‘medical borders’: during entry clearance procedures in their countries of origin; at Britain’s ports and airports; and via public health surveillance in the British towns and cities that were the migrants’ destinations. However, Britain’s geographical and internal borders were largely unmedicalised in the twentieth century and remain comparatively free from specifically medical controls even today. I explore the role of the National Health Service – both as a national symbol and as a physical institution – in shaping and responding to this paradox. Given the intensity of popular suspicions of migrants’ bodies and their hygienic and reproductive practices, and the frequency with which medical claims mediated and bolstered anti-migrant rhetoric, why has medical ‘control’ itself proven politically elusive and persistently suspect?

in Medicalising borders
Open Access (free)
Sven Rubenson, Amsalu Aklilu, Shiferaw Bekele, and Samuel Shiferaw 

A variety of matters are dealt with in the documents of the year 1880, but two issues receive special attention. The first issue is the attempts made by the Italian government and its representatives to secure and expand their settlement at Aseb by means of agreements with local rulers, many of which seem to lack proper documentation on the Ethiopian part. The second issue is found in letters that deal with the problems of identifying the purposes and roles of European explorers and their respective fate, in particular the arrest of Giovanni Chiarini and Antonio Cecchi, as well as the death of the former and the release of the latter.

in Colonial Powers and Ethiopian Frontiers 1880–1884
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Sven Rubenson, Amsalu Aklilu, Shiferaw Bekele, and Samuel Shiferaw 

Among the issues treated in the documents of 1881, the two most important are, first, the attempts made by Emperor Yohannis to define the borders of his country: these attempts involve Gerhard Rohlfs as German arbitrator, his mission to Egypt to obtain new bishops for Ethiopia, and his engagement on behalf of the Ethiopian community in Jerusalem. The second important issue is King Minīlik’s increasing attempts at an independent foreign policy and control over the increasing Italian interests in Ethiopia, documented in his letters to King Umberto of Italy. The increasing role of the import of arms for the Ethiopian rulers is also clearly visible.

in Colonial Powers and Ethiopian Frontiers 1880–1884
Open Access (free)
Sven Rubenson, Amsalu Aklilu, Shiferaw Bekele, and Samuel Shiferaw 

The letters of 1882 include a number related to internal conflicts between regional rulers and opposition to the Emperor. They also contain documents related to the struggle between Egypt and the colonial powers for control over the Gulf and the trade routes, and the increasing involvement of the most important ruler in the area, the Sultan of Awsa, Maḥammad Ḥanfadhē. The documents include the first letter by an Ethiopian ruler written in a European language.

in Colonial Powers and Ethiopian Frontiers 1880–1884
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Sven Rubenson, Amsalu Aklilu, Shiferaw Bekele, and Samuel Shiferaw 

The documents from 1883 are strongly dominated by correspondence between local rulers along the coast and in Danakil and the representatives of the Italian government. The most important documents are the treaties between Italy and Awsa and Italy and Shewa, clearly revealing the interdependence between the rulers of Shewa and the rulers of the Danakil, the basic issue being secure and free trade routes and Italian hegemony over other European interests. A number of letters from Emperor Yohannis to European rulers show the increasing Ethiopian impatience with continued European support for Egypt after its defeat in the wars of the 1870s, and an interesting letter demonstrates the Emperor’s concern over the growing cooperation between King Minīlik and the Italians.

in Colonial Powers and Ethiopian Frontiers 1880–1884
Open Access (free)
Sven Rubenson, Amsalu Aklilu, Shiferaw Bekele, and Samuel Shiferaw 

The most important documents of the year 1884 are the letters from Emperor Yohannis to Queen Victoria and her representatives and the so-called Hewett treaty of 7 June 1884, which finally ended the Ethio-Egyptian war that had started in 1875. Several documents from this year reveal the strong relations between Italy and Shewa, the role of Count Pietro Antonelli, and the tensions created by these leading up to the famous Wichale treaty and the subsequent Italian attempt to conquer Ethiopia. Other documents relate to an increased French presence in the Gulf, including a number of rather suspect so-called agreements, eventually leading up to the French colony of Djibouti.

in Colonial Powers and Ethiopian Frontiers 1880–1884

Colonial powers and Ethiopian frontiers 1880–1884 is the fourth volume of Acta Aethiopica, a series that presents original Ethiopian documents of nineteenth-century Ethiopian history with English translations and scholarly notes. The documents have been collected from dozens of archives in Africa and Europe to recover and present the Ethiopian voice in the history of Ethiopia in the nineteenth century. The present book, the first Acta Aethiopica volume to appear from Lund University Press, deals with how Ethiopian rulers related to colonial powers in their attempts to open Ethiopia for trade and technological development while preserving the integrity and independence of their country. In addition to the correspondence and treatises with the rulers and representatives of Italy, Egypt and Great Britain, the volume also presents letters dealing with ecclesiastical issues, including the Ethiopian community in Jerusalem.

Reinventing medieval leprosy for the modern world, 1850–1950
Kathleen Vongsathorn and Magnus Vollset

By the nineteenth century, most Europeans considered leprosy a matter of the past. When it was ‘rediscovered’ in Europe and the tropical world, people looked to history to inform contemporary understandings of the disease. Using medical journals and textbooks, leprosy histories, policy documents, newspaper articles, and philanthropic publications, this chapter discusses modern perceptions of medieval leprosy. First, it shows how medieval leprosy gained and lost relevance as medical and scientific debates changed over time. The past was reinvented to correspond with the present, in which leprosy’s contagiousness and the supposed efficacy of segregation in medieval Europe were cast as models for modern action. Next, the chapter explores popular conceptions of leprosy. When Europeans began encountering leprosy again in the nineteenth century, writers and medical practitioners drew parallels between medieval Europe and the contemporary tropics, while differentiating them from modern Europe. The contrast drawn between ‘civilised’ modern Europe and its ‘primitive’ medieval past was part of an attempt to preserve the superior, ‘civilised’ identity of Britain, in particular. Leprosy has long been a disease of contradictions, and while modern Europeans were casting medieval Europeans in a negative light, they were also looking to their ancestors for positive inspiration towards philanthropy. Overall, this chapter explores the tension between ‘old’ and ‘new’ ideas about leprosy, showing how perceptions of leprosy’s history, if conflicting, became deeply ingrained in the conceptualisation and management of leprosy in the modern world.

in Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages
Trevor Burnard

The Atlantic slave trade was a violent institution. What is more important than cataloguing the everyday and extraordinary violence in the Atlantic slave system – which began in the mid fifteenth century, before Columbus’s voyages to the New World, and which lasted until 1888, when Brazil became the last society to abolish slavery – is to analyse the meanings for planters, traders, and enslaved people of the constant violence that enveloped this system. This chapter uses violence as an analytic category in order to demonstrate how brutality, violence, and death were not mere by-products of the extremely lucrative early modern plantation system, but were the sine qua non of that plantation world.

in A global history of early modern violence
The two sides of provincial violence in early modern Burma
Michael W. Charney

The chapter examines the use of spectacular violence by provincial officials in early modern Burma during the reign of King Bodawhpaya (1782–1819). Villagers in outlying provinces that fit James Scott’s definition of non-state space obeyed state officials only because of the threat and implementation of execution. Coercive violence probably always remained an important part of the everyday life of the early modern Burmese state in the provinces, however much its enactment and the threat of its imposition was invisible to or misunderstood by the royal centre. In the royal court, the king watched over the people and judged the good and the bad, and the eyes of all in the kingdom were upon the throne. This royal imaginary gave cohesion to the kingdom within a moral system that emphasized unity, harmony, and peace. It blinded the court to the everyday activities of centrally appointed officials who abused the local populations under their charge for their own benefit. Abuse led to resistance and flight, which led to more violence, and in the end undermined the security of the royal imaginary. Political centralization in early modern Burma, by replacing locally responsible royal and noble families with temporary central appointees, encouraged, at least to some degree, increasing violence of this kind over time.

in A global history of early modern violence