Colonial Caring covers over a century of colonial nursing by nurses from a wide range of countries including: Denmark, Britain, USA, Holland and Italy; with the colonised countries including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Nigeria, India, Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) and the Danish West Indies. It presents unique perspectives from which to interrogate colonialism and post-colonialism including aspects of race, cultural difference and implications of warfare and politics upon nursing. Viewing nursing’s development under colonial and post-colonial rule reveals different faces of a profession that superficially may appear to be consistent and coherent, yet in reality is constantly reinventing itself. Considering such areas as transnational relationships, class, gender, race and politics, this book aims to present current work in progress within the field, to better understand the complex entanglements in nursing’s development as it was imagined and practised in local imperial, colonial and post-colonial contexts. Taking a chronologically-based structure, early chapters examine nursing in situations of conflict in the post-Crimean period from the Indian Rebellion to the Anglo-Boer War. Recruitment, professionalisation of nursing and of military nursing in particular, are therefore considered before moving deeper into the twentieth century reflecting upon later periods of colonialism in which religion and humanitarianism become more central. Drawing from a wide range of sources from official documents to diaries, memoirs and oral sources, and using a variety of methodologies including qualitative and quantitative approaches, the book represents ground-breaking work.
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.