This history of the categorization of yellow fever explores the interchange between rhetoric and evidence in understanding the disease. Eighteenth-century models of medicine relied on rhetorical manipulation to convince readers of accuracy, unlike modern medicine, which claims objective evidence as the professional standard. But how did the physician as intellectual give way to the physician as scientist? This essay analyzes the transition through a case study: J.-C. Faget famously discovered the definitive sign of yellow fever, and Charles Deléry disputed how doctors should attempt to understand the disease in New Orleans, a vital yet understudied medical center dominated by Francophone creole interests. It addresses the use of ideas about immunity to define racial, ethnic, and class differences; the rhetoric of health and medicine; developing ontological theories of disease; and the struggle to employ intellectual realizations to understand this disease that cost the region dearly in lives and income.
This article offers a novel perspective on the evolving identities and relationships of human medicine and veterinary medicine in England during the decades that followed the 1791 foundation of the London Veterinary College. Contrary to the impressions conveyed by both medical and veterinary historians, it reveals that veterinary medicine, as initially defined, taught and studied at the college, was not a domain apart from human medicine but rather was continuous with it. It then shows how this social, cultural, and epistemological continuity fractured over the period 1815 to 1835. Under the impetus of a movement for medical reform, veterinarians began to advance an alternative vision of their field as an autonomous, independent domain. They developed their own societies and journals and a uniquely veterinary epistemology that was rooted in the experiences of veterinary practice. In this way, “one medicine” became “two,” and the professions began to assume their modern forms and relations.
Government-aided vernacular schools introduced “human physiology” as a subject in 1859. I use the first couple of schoolbooks and the debate running up to the introduction of the subject to open up the particular and specific histories through which modern anatomo-physiological knowledge was vernacularized in colonial Bengal. In so doing I have two interconnected goals in this article. My first goal is to analyze the precocious decision to teach human physiology to colonial schoolboys, at a time when this was the norm neither in Great Britain nor indeed in traditional Bengali schools. My second goal is to use this case to further develop “vernacularization” as a conceptual tool. In pursuing these twin objectives, I simultaneously hope to move the debate on modern anatomo-physiological knowledge in South Asia away from the level of epistemic superiority and onto-politics to the level of concrete historical particularities.
This article rethinks the formative decades of American drug wars through a social history of addiction to pharmaceutical narcotics, sedatives, and stimulants in the first half of the twentieth century. It argues, first, that addiction to pharmaceutical drugs is no recent aberration; it has historically been more extensive than “street” or illicit drug use. Second, it argues that access to psychoactive pharmaceuticals was a problematic social entitlement constructed as distinctively medical amid the racialized reforms of the Progressive Era. The resulting drug control regime provided inadequate consumer protection for some (through the FDA), and overly punitive policing for others (through the FBN). Instead of seeing these as two separate stories—one a liberal triumph and the other a repressive scourge—both should be understood as part of the broader establishment of a consumer market for drugs segregated by class and race like other consumer markets developed in the era of Progressivism and Jim Crow.
This article looks at cases of venereal disease from the early 1700s and how healers presented themselves as shrewd interpreters of patients’ bodies and souls. Because the disease was so stigmatizing, patients were said to be unreliable narrators of their own symptoms and health histories. Practitioners, in turn, exhibited diagnostic expertise by sagely navigating such constraints. They characterized themselves as medical detectives who gathered clues and made diagnoses in spite of patients’ alleged lies and omissions. Such work entailed moral integrity, astute observations, and the ability to persuade patients to divulge their most shameful sexual secrets. These findings illuminate how a particular disease shaped constructions of medical expertise, as well as the details of early modern medical practice that we rarely have the privilege of seeing.
This article examines links between mid-Victorian opposition to commerce in popular works on sexual health and the introduction of a legal test of obscenity, in the 1868 trial R. v. Hicklin, that opened the public distribution of any work that contained sexual information to prosecution. The article demonstrates how both campaigning medical journals’ crusades against "obscene quackery" and judicial and anti-vice groups who aimed to protect public morals responded to unruly trade in medical print by linking popular medical works with public corruption. When this link was codified, it became a double-edged sword for medical authorities. The Hicklin test provided these authorities with a blunt tool for disciplining professional medical behavior. However, it also radically narrowed the parameters through which even the most established practitioners could communicate medical information without risking censure.