History

Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19

Ireland offers a particularly interesting canvas to study the social and political effects of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic, which is the largest the world has ever known. The influenza inserted itself into every running theme in Irish society, from the over-burdened and disjointed medical system, to the growing discontent with British rule, and the difficulties imposed by World War I. The influenza pandemic was contemporaneous with the so-called German plot, where anti-conscription campaigners had been interned on a trumped up charge by the government. Two of the internees would die from the disease, even as nationalists warned of the dangers of being imprisoned at this time. This work also draws on oral histories with survivors who spoke of this disease they suffered as children at the end of their lives. It tells how doctors had their new confidence in bacteriology challenged as it failed to provide answers to cure patients. It tells too of the families who suffered loss, and often changing financial circumstances when parents died. Life, for some, was never the same, whether through continued ill health or loss of loved ones.

The lazaretto located in the port of Nice, in contrast to other similar institutions in southern Europe examined or not in this volume, progressively lost its importance as a tool of public health during the first half of the nineteenth century. This occurred in parallel with and actually reflected the geopolitical shifts of the town and its neighbouring territory, then still located on the “Italian” side on the French-Sardinian border. This chapter traces the gradual transformations that took place in the political, economic and sanitary interests of the port authorities, which resulted in the progressive relaxation of quarantine for arrivals from French ports, in contrast with more stringent measures for ships arriving from the Italian peninsula, and which in turn revealed and intensified an alignment with French liberal politics and free-trade commerce. The lazaretto of Nice did not shield the town against French annexationism, but rather paved the way for it.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914
The case of Nicasio Landa

This chapter argues in favour of the thesis that no real dichotomy between the miasmic-environmentalist and contagionist theories characterised public health practices in Europe. Focusing on Spain, this study shows that quarantine, in different measures, remained in operation throughout the nineteenth century even when liberal regimes took power. Against this background, the author examines the work of military doctor and reformist Nicasio Landa whose publications, founded on his experiences of yellow fever and cholera epidemics in Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands, presented elaborate studies on medical topography and epidemiology, on environmentalism and telluric theories. Nonetheless, in practice, Landa took a pragmatic attitude by accepting a reformed, human-centred quarantine system.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914

This chapter argues that the setting up of cordon sanitaires in Portugal from the mid-eighteenth to the early years of the nineteenth century, formed part of a strategy by the Crown which employed public health institutions to consolidate its power over society and protect the national territory. Epidemics were therefore managed for political purposes by the government, and the political class, as happened in 1756 and 1800. The study shows how the threat of yellow fever in 1800 that led to the establishment of a military cordon sanitaire was actually a measure to protect the land frontier against an eventual armed invasion from Spain. This contrasts with the quarantine imposed in 1804 which was genuinely set up to combat the yellow fever epidemic, thus marking a new phase in the history of quarantine in Portugal.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914
Mallorca (Balearic Islands), 1820–70

This chapter investigates how coastal and inland sanitary cordons were employed both as public health measures against the import of epidemics and as a means to preserve local agency against the expansion of the political authority of the new liberal state, in Mallorca. The configuration of the cordon sanitaires, during the 1820–70 period, manifest the intricate relationship evolving between the local sanitary authorities, the provincial powers and the central state - with the army playing a most important role. The chapter also shows how quarantine was perceived and supported by the local communities as the most tangible and historical proven measure against the spread of epidemics.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914
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Mediterranean quarantine disclosed: space, identity and power

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
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.

Hajj, cholera and Spanish–Moroccan regeneration, 1890–99

This chapter deals with a rather unknown quarantine institution: the lazaretto of Mogador Island in Morocco. Specifically, the work explores the site’s centrality to the Spanish imperialist project of “regeneration” over of its southern neighbour. In contrast with the “civilisation” schemes deployed by the leading European imperial powers at the end of the nineteenth century, regeneration did not seek to construct a colonial Morocco but a so-called African Spain in more balanced terms with peninsular Spain. This project was to be achieved through the support and direction of ongoing Moroccan initiatives of modernisation, as well as through the training of an elite of “Moors” who were to collaborate with Spanish experts sent to the country, largely based in Tangier. Within this general context, the Mogador Island lazaretto became a key site of regeneration projects. From a sanitary and political point of view, it was meant to define a Spanish-Moroccan space by marking its new borders and also to protect “Moorish” pilgrims against both the ideological and health-related risks associated with the Mecca pilgrimage.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914
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Quarantine and professional identity in mid nineteenth-century Britain

By focusing on a particular group of British doctors, those practising with the Royal Navy, this chapter maintains that the collective identity of these physicians in the early nineteenth century was shaped by how they acquired their first professional experience in the Mediterranean. It was an established practice for navy doctors to spend the first years of their professional trajectory in the two key British possessions in the region: Gibraltar and Malta. There, they learned to regard quarantine as a useless measure – in conformity with dominant British anti-contagionism – despite the fact that it was systematically applied. Sustaining an opposite view was often incompatible with pursuing a career within the navy. At the same time, quarantine was also being used by the British medical press as a sort of “crash-test” to define what “professionalism” should mean in the medical corpus. The press highlighted the contradiction which existed between the theoretical medical views prevalent in Britain and the routine practices of navy doctors on site in the Mediterranean outposts, and exposed this as an example of the lack of professionalism.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914
The sanitary control of Muslim pilgrims from the Balkans, 1830–1914

This chapter investigates the use of quarantine as an instrument of social control and as dispositive for the construction and stigmatization of the Muslim ‘other’. The study takes the under-researched case of the Hajj to Mecca from the Balkans, hence focusing on Muslims from Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina (the latter under Austrian-Hungarian rule as from 1878). Both Bosnian and Bulgarian Muslim pilgrims experienced quarantine on their return from Mecca, yet in unequal measures. Bosnian hajjis were given a more lenient quarantine than their Bulgarian co-religionists by their separate sanitary authorities – with regard to the duration of isolation and the disinfection of their bodies and personal belongings. This was due to the different political and cultural attitudes towards their Muslim minorities by these two Balkan regimes.

in Mediterranean Quarantines, 1750–1914