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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01j098zd499
Title: QUARANTINE, CONTAGION, AND IMAGINATIVE GEOGRAPHY IN THE BRITISH MEDITERRANEAN WORLD, 1780–1860
Authors: Chase-Levenson, Alexander
Advisors: Colley, Linda J
Contributors: History Department
Subjects: History
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The dissertation considers Britain’s engagement with the Mediterranean quarantine system in the final decades of that system’s existence (roughly 1780–1860). In the modern period, I argue, quarantine practice tied Britain to continental Europe and facilitated European collaboration from the ground up by stimulating cooperation among bureaucrats in different port cities. All travelers, traders, soldiers, sailors, missionaries, and others returning from the Ottoman Empire or North Africa were required to submit to quarantine. There, they were detained, their luggage was fumigated, and their letters were smoked. I argue that in addition to being a practical hassle and an economic burden, the system imposed a particular imaginative geography. It helped shape perceptions about the world outside the cordon sanitaire as well as the world inside it. The first half of the dissertation considers quarantine practice itself. I show how the political and military crises of the Napoleonic era, as well as new epidemic threats, ensured quarantine’s existence well into the modern period. I look at what it was like to experience the system as a traveler as well as what it meant to govern it as a member of a board of health. I show how coordination among low-level consuls and boards of health across the Mediterranean helped fashion Western Europe into a biopolity in which sanitary policy was coordinated transnationally. This is an early form of European integration that occurred far below the more familiar high diplomacy of the era of the Congress of Vienna. The second half of the dissertation looks at the ramifications of quarantine on Britons and Western Europeans more broadly. I show how understandings of the plague helped influence the development of Orientalist exoticism and shape Western evaluations of Ottoman power. I investigate the medical controversies that embroiled quarantine in its final decades and show how intimately tied these debates were to the birth of public health reform. Finally, I evaluate the conceptual place of epidemics in the metropolitan consciousness and argue that quarantine created a logic for conceiving of even smoke-choked Victorian Britain as a healthy nation.
URI: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01j098zd499
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog: http://catalog.princeton.edu/
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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