This article explores attempts to control outbreaks of venereal diseases among prostitutes and imperial soldiers in Cairo and Alexandria leading up to and through World War I. Seeking to move beyond the usual colonial framing of center-periphery, it considers two British imperial outposts—Egypt and Australia—in conversation. The war brought thousands of Australian soldiers to Egypt, leaving their mark on Egypt and becoming marked by their time there, sometimes in indelible and deadly ways, as bodies and bodily fluids collided, and microbes passed between colonial and imperial subjects. The article argues that the highly racialized and classed system for regulating foreign and local prostitution that British officials implemented in Egypt to protect soldiers exacerbated rather than contained the spread of venereal diseases.
The rise of psychiatric deinstitutionalization policies in the formerly colonized world is commonly narrated as a novel and decolonial intervention imparted by Euro-American NGOs of the global mental health era of the past two decades. By contrast, this article uncovers the history of a British imperial push for deinstitutionalization that originated in West Africa in the 1930s—decades prior to the rise of global mental health policies. Colonial austerity measures, combined with British officials’ observations of West African ethno-psychiatric healing practices, motivated an empire-wide policy favoring family and community care over institutional treatment for most mentally distressed colonial subjects. Global mental health policies that ideologically sanction state austerity measures for the mentally ill through community care are neither new nor decolonial. They remake colonial-era mandates for public services to operate on shoestring budgets.
By the mid-1950s, formal body donation programs began to supplant the decades-long reliance on the anatomy acts that made the bodies of the indigent and unclaimed available for medical education and research. By the mid-1980s, nearly all American medical schools relied on voluntary anatomical gifts of dead bodies. Throughout the nineteenth century, a handful of Americans requested through wills, letters, and suicide notes that their corpses be given to doctors and medical schools. The dramatic expansion of American newspapers after the Civil War helped establish bequeathing one’s body as an available, albeit eccentric, afterlife. A significant shift in American deathways in the twentieth century, the rise of blood donation and organ transplantation, and a serious decline in the number of unclaimed bodies spurred anatomists finally to accept, and then to promote, this new corporeal philanthropy.
While nineteenth-century regular physicians were expected to project a circumscribed affect in the exercise of their duties, they were not always successful in maintaining this performance. Archival sources, particularly the manuscript casebook for private practice, reveal the slippage between the performance of appropriate affect and the felt, interior emotions of the physician. This essay frames the casebook as an affective genre, building on Gianna Pomata’s concept of epistemic genre. I argue that the nineteenth-century casebook, particularly when compared with the published case narrative, can reveal the disjunction or slippage between the expected performance of affect—that which Osler and others wished to prescribe for medical practitioners—and the felt reality or interiority of the physician. The article proposes the concept of affective genre and then explores its utility through close analysis of the casebook of a single practitioner, Andrew Bowles Holder, and selected examples from the casebooks of his contemporaries.