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Medicine and the Saints: Science, Islam, and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956
     

Medicine and the Saints: Science, Islam, and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956

by Ellen J. Amster, Rajae El Aoued (Foreword by)
 

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The colonial encounter between France and Morocco took place not only in the political realm but also in the realm of medicine. Because the body politic and the physical body are intimately linked, French efforts to colonize Morocco took place in and through the body. Starting from this original premise, Medicine and the Saints traces a history of

Overview

The colonial encounter between France and Morocco took place not only in the political realm but also in the realm of medicine. Because the body politic and the physical body are intimately linked, French efforts to colonize Morocco took place in and through the body. Starting from this original premise, Medicine and the Saints traces a history of colonial embodiment in Morocco through a series of medical encounters between the Islamic sultanate of Morocco and the Republic of France from 1877 to 1956.

Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in both French and Arabic, Ellen Amster investigates the positivist ambitions of French colonial doctors, sociologists, philologists, and historians; the social history of the encounters and transformations occasioned by French medical interventions; and the ways in which Moroccan nationalists ultimately appropriated a French model of modernity to invent the independent nation-state. Each chapter of the book addresses a different problem in the history of medicine: international espionage and a doctor's murder; disease and revolt in Moroccan cities; a battle for authority between doctors and Muslim midwives; and the search for national identity in the welfare state. This research reveals how Moroccans ingested and digested French science and used it to create a nationalist movement and Islamist politics, and to understand disease and health. In the colonial encounter, the Muslim body became a seat of subjectivity, the place from which individuals contested and redefined the political.

Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review - Sahar Bazzaz
"Medicine and the Saints offers readers a complex analysis and interpretation of French colonialism in Morocco..."
Social History of Medicine - Adam Guerin
"Medicine and the Saints challenges the very notion of modernity and provides fresh insight into contemporary questions of post-colonial epistemologies of personal and social health. This book is essential for scholars interested in social life at the interstices of colonial-modern Morocco."
American Historical Review
"Medicine and the Saints offers readers a complex analysis and interpretation of French colonialism in Morocco..."
Social History of Medicine
"Medicine and the Saints challenges the very notion of modernity and provides fresh insight into contemporary questions of post-colonial epistemologies of personal and social health. This book is essential for scholars interested in social life at the interstices of colonial-modern Morocco."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292745445
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
08/15/2013
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

Susan Gilson Miller
"This first book from an exciting new figure in the field of Islamic medical history offers a fresh look at how the Moroccan ‘body’ became the site for competing influences leading to a political and scientific modernity. The clear prose, creative use of sources, and historical accuracy are exemplary. Nor will the reader be bored; the narrative is full of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises that engage the mind and stimulate the imagination, regardless of one’s disciplinary orientation."
Nancy Gallagher
"This book is a significant contribution to the field with much new information and original archival research. It brings together earlier work on colonial medicine in Morocco and gives the reader a new appreciation of the importance of medicine and public health in the colonial encounter and in the nationalist resistance movement, and in the state building that followed. It adds to the study of gender and empire, showing how the colonial authorities manipulated the health and well-being of indigenous women for their political interests. . . . It will be well received by scholars interested in the history of the Maghrib and Middle East, Islamic medicine, Sufism, French Empire, and gender, health, and empire."
Richard Keller
"This is a dazzlingly good book. Amster takes us on a bewildering tour of medicine and public health in colonial Morocco in a pioneering study. Health was a critical site of contestation in the protectorate. . . . The differences of authority between doctor and patient were dramatically exacerbated by the gulfs of power in the colonial state. Western biomedical and local Islamic epistemologies produced enormous conflict, and yet opened a critical space of resistance to colonial rule. . . . As opposed to those who would find in colonial medicine a demon of oppression, or those who would use it to excuse colonial excesses, Amster has produced a nuanced study that opens an important window on the enormous complexity of medicine and public health as a staging area for the colonial encounter. Among other critical elements of the book, she places the intersection of gender and religion at the forefront, making this a truly notable addition to the literature."

Meet the Author

Ellen J. Amster is Associate Professor of Middle East History at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and a specialist in French and Islamic medicine. Her research includes global health, non-Western health and healing systems, women's studies, the history of North Africa, and French imperialism in the Islamic world. She has been a simultaneous translator for an ORBIS ocular surgery mission and a researcher at the National Institute of Hygiene in Morocco, and she also created a global women's health program in Morocco.

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