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Expurgating bodies, commodities and ideas, 1800–1870s
John Chircop

Quarantines were intended as prophylactic institutions: detaining, regulating and sanitising the movement of individuals and merchandise crossing the boundaries of a state. This chapter investigates these quarantine practices and other more complex multifunctional operations by focusing on the foremost quarantine institutions – the lazarettos – in southern Europe. Lazarettos are taken as filtering instruments which selected, separated, disinfected and disciplined ‘alien’ or returning embodied subjects before entering the country. They are analysed as inbuilt edifices, as an integral part of the state border itself. Their internal arrangements – spatial structures, physical divisions and social organisation – strictly conformed to and assisted the disinfection of persons, merchandise, animals and the expurgation of mail. Set against these permanent quarantine structures, this study then shifts attention to the actual protagonists – from the physicians to the health guardians to the expurgators – who were indispensable for quarantine to function. This helps us to examine quarantine disinfection and expurgation, not only as crucial sanitary procedures, but also as purifying cross-border rituals. While critically employing Giorgio Agamben’s idea of ‘apparatus’ to explore the basic functions of the lazaretto – to constrain, regulate and govern the movement and influx of persons, goods and animals – this study also brings to the fore other practices of filtering and expurgation which rendered the lazaretto more of a multifunctional site, serving as a crossover between detention centre, infective hospital, asylum, sanitary and social behavioural laboratory, postal-censor office and ritual purifying site on a country’s sea border.

in Medicalising borders
John Chircop

This chapter investigates the setting up of a network of lazarettos along the southern and eastern littorals of the Mediterranean during the nineteenth century. The fundamental thesis is that these lazarettos, constructed and frequently directed by Europeans, sustained the expansion of Western colonialism in the region. Starting with an investigation of the workings of the first Sanitary Councils – in North Africa and Ottoman-ruled ports – which preceded the International Sanitary Conferences, the study then goes on to show how maritime quarantine catered for the European powers’ commercial, shipping and imperial interests in the region. By examining the regulations and the actual practices of disinfection adopted in these lazarettos, this chapter also shows how these institutions constructed and/or consolidated stereotypes of the ‘Muslim Arab’ as a ‘threatening contagious body.’

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914
Space, identity and power

This volume aims to disclose the political, social and cultural factors that influenced the sanitary measures against epidemics developed in the Mediterranean during the long nineteenth century. The contributions to the book provide new interdisciplinary insights to the booming field of ‘quarantine studies’ through a systematic use of the analytic categories of space, identity and power. The ultimate goal is to show the multidimensional nature of quarantine, the intimate links that sanitary administrations and institutions had with the territorial organization of states, international trade, the construction of national, colonial, religious and professional identities or the configuration of political regimes. The circum-Mediterranean geographical spread of the case studies contained in this volume illuminates the similarities and differences around and across this sea, on the southern and northern shores, in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Italian, English and French-speaking domains. At the same time, it is highly interested in engaging in the global English-speaking community, offering a wide range of terms, sources, bibliography, interpretative tools and views produced and elaborated in various Mediterranean countries. The historical approach will be useful to recognize the secular tensions that still lie behind present-day issues such as the return of epidemics or the global flows of migrants and refugees.

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Mediterranean quarantine disclosed: space, identity and power
John Chircop and Francisco Javier Martínez

This chapter argues that the last decades have seen the historiographical picture of modern quarantine deeply transformed thanks to the application of new, elaborate theoretical insights and cutting-edge research and approaches from a wide spectrum of disciplines. As a consequence, quarantine history has been expanded into “quarantine studies”, an ever more fertile global and interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Surprisingly, major international scholarship on this emergent field in the last two decades has tended to neglect left tended to the Mediterranean apart in various respects. This introduction claims that the Mediterranean foundation of this collection of essays is not contradictory but actually complementary, and further contributes to the current efforts to the writing of a global history of quarantine. Instead of enlarging the geographical scope to draw connections with the Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the book actually attempts to “disclose” the global trends underlying local Mediterranean processes, to “provincialize” Mediterranean quarantine.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914