Helen Sweet
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Sue Hawkins
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Contextualising colonial and post-colonial nursing

The introduction provides an overview of the book’s focus, structure and remit, outlining commonalities as well as differences between the experiences of colonial nurses discussed in the book. Drawing from their experience in researching and writing gender and racial social histories and in colonial and post-colonial nursing history respectively, the editors tease out emerging themes placing them within a clear chronological and historiographical framework. They examine how this field has developed in the history of medicine and identify questions which current research still leaves unanswered, but for which nursing’s history is uniquely placed. The chapters in this book reveal the presence (or absence) of underlying racial and cultural tensions between nurses and their patients, nurses and professional colleagues or their indigenous counterparts; and the editors question whether past histories have not been grossly oversimplified by projecting images of imperial collaboration/cooperation onto all forms of colonial nursing, by all countries, across a long timespan. We evaluate the difficulties of discussing and analysing the impact of colonial nursing from the indigenous population’s viewpoint to present balanced analyses, and explore different experiences of colonial/ post-colonial nursing over more than a century whilst considering the impact of peacetime or conflict on nurses and nursing.

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Colonial caring

A history of colonial and post-colonial nursing

Editors: and


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