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Title: Doctoring the 'Bled': Medical Auxiliaries and the Administration of Rural Life in Colonial Algeria, 1904-1954
Authors: Clark, Hannah-Louise
Advisors: Guenther, Katja
Contributors: History of Science Department
Keywords: Algeria
Rural History
Subjects: History of science
North African studies
Modern history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the professional and personal predicaments experienced by twentieth-century Algerian <italic>auxiliaires médicaux<italic> and <italic>adjoints techniques de la Santé publique<italic>. Both cadres comprised Muslim men who were recruited by the French colonial state to provide a limited form of Republican welfare in the Algerian countryside (the <italic>bled<italic>). Departing from doctor-centred histories, I interrogate official narratives to uncover how state medicine and hygiene functioned on the ground. Drawing upon national and regional archives in Algeria and France, Islamic legal treatises, newspapers, and non-official sources such as private letters and memoirs, genealogical websites and blogs, and oral histories to reconstruct the history of the medical auxiliarat, I explore three different aspects of state medicine and public health in Algeria. First, I demonstrate that local knowledge, Islamic discursive traditions, and pre-colonial forms of benevolence and community welfare continued to operate within Algerian public health, even under French colonial occupation and rule. Second, I disarticulate the conflicts and points of convergence between and among Muslim healthworkers, European doctors and administrators, and local populations. Finally, I adduce the place of medicine and health within technologies of colonial administration, including how the actions of the low-ranking medical auxiliary shaped these technologies. The history of medical auxiliaries forces a re-examination of debates about the colonial state, medicine, and rural agency and the dichotomised representation of Algerian society as comprising two opposed population blocs of coloniser and colonised. Through new archival discoveries, and through reading French sources in the light of Arabic sources (and vice versa), the dissertation illustrates that state medicine was not only a tool of colonial elites but also a resource that held considerable appeal for both educated and unlettered Muslims and settlers. The work of medical auxiliaries expanded the powers of the state to manage human populations and disease, and simultaneously engaged the rural populace in the idea of state medical relief. This approach opens up a new direction in the empirical study of indigenous medical actors in empire and breaks new ground for a social history of colonialism in Algeria.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History of Science

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