Disease, conflict and nursing in the British Empire, 1880–1914
Transnational developments in biomedicine and technology together with broader social changes, not only reshaped disease prevention and healthcare policy, but facilitated mass migrations of people, creating new pathways for spreading disease, simultaneously helping form various conduits, including nursing, for the “new” medical knowledge required to combat this spread. Additionally, this period (1900-1914) was characterised by global crises, which provide important contexts for reappraising the history of nursing at local, national and transnational levels, while creating an important lens through which to study the changing profession. The geographical focus of this chapter is on three port cities: Cape Town, Melbourne and Hong Kong, selected as representing different types of colonial administration, and colonial histories, which naturally affected the implementation of healthcare systems. Traditional approaches to nursing’s history are enclavist in arguing that nursing practice, education and policy was established and solidified in the metropole before being exported to the colonies by British nurses. Consequently, professional nursing developed independently in each of the colonial outposts. The chapter argues that nursing practice is equally constituted on the peripheries of Empire, so that complex networks of nursing ideas existed within the British Empire, fuelled and expanded by mass migration of nurses.