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Title: Medicine on the Battlefield: the History of Army Medics in Modern Japan
Authors: Harari, Reut
Advisors: Elman, Benjamin
Garon, Sheldon
Contributors: History of Science Department
Keywords: Global History
History of medicine
History of war
Japanese history
Military medicine
Pacific War
Subjects: History
Asian history
Science history
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Both war and medicine alter the human body, but in two different ways; war uses violence to harm and kill, while medicine strives to save and maintain the body. Despite this essential disparity, the two fields have been intimately connected and mutually contributive since early in history. This connection reached new heights during the “Modern era,” as war expanded and became increasingly medicalized. The dissertation examines the corresponding processes of the ״medicalization of war” and the “militarization of medicine,” through the role of military medics – layman soldiers, whom militaries enlisted and trained to serve as medical care providers. The dissertation argues that medics embodied these processes, spearheading the movement of medicine closer to the battlefield. Why did militaries decide to entrust inexperienced soldiers with medical duties, and how did their role change over time? The dissertation explores these questions, while focusing on the case of the Japanese Army from roughly 1868 to 1945. Its first part examines the origins of the role and its early manifestations from an institutional and transnational viewpoint. It reveals how the Japanese Army created a variety of medic roles based on an altered view of the soldier’s body, as an asset requiring maintenance and protection to ensure military victory. Medics consequently stood at the intersection between military and medical reforms. The second part of the dissertation focuses on the voice of former Japanese medics, who served during the 1930s and 1940s - in units and hospitals, in the front and the rear, in Japan and overseas. It explores what it meant for these men to serve as at once soldiers and medical care providers. Their stories illustrate how the role changed, as the Japanese Army’s position changed – from military expansion, through imperial occupation, to defeat – and reveals the ethical dilemmas medics were forced to face as a result; in cases of war crimes, and when losing all ability to treat towards the end of the Pacific War. The role relied on a fragile balance between its two aspects – the “military” and “medical.” When the balance was broken, the role was lost.
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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