Disease, conflict and nursing in the British Empire, 1880–1914
Imperial sisters in Hong Kong:
disease, conflict and nursing in the
British nurses, much like those enlisted in the colonial or military
services, frequently circulated within the Empire as a professional
necessity, often in response to the development of perceived crisis
in the form of conflicts or disease outbreaks, prompting reciprocally
shaping encounters between individuals within the various colonial
outposts. More traditional approaches to the history of nursing are
enclavist in the sense that they have
Cancer, modernity, and decline in fin-de-siècle Britain
, less decadent diet was likely to protect against the disease.
Cancer – then as now – was conceptualised as a disease of civilisation, an unintended consequence of progress. Anxiety over the perceived increase of cancer was provoked in part by research that seemed to suggest the epidemic was not confined to Western or so-called ‘developed’ nations. Doctors across the BritishEmpire were, at the end of the nineteenth century, engaged in a large-scale evidence-gathering mission. Data and anecdotal evidence was
Colonial Caring covers over a century of colonial nursing by nurses from a wide range of countries including: Denmark, Britain, USA, Holland and Italy; with the colonised countries including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Nigeria, India, Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) and the Danish West Indies. It presents unique perspectives from which to interrogate colonialism and post-colonialism including aspects of race, cultural difference and implications of warfare and politics upon nursing. Viewing nursing’s development under colonial and post-colonial rule reveals different faces of a profession that superficially may appear to be consistent and coherent, yet in reality is constantly reinventing itself. Considering such areas as transnational relationships, class, gender, race and politics, this book aims to present current work in progress within the field, to better understand the complex entanglements in nursing’s development as it was imagined and practised in local imperial, colonial and post-colonial contexts. Taking a chronologically-based structure, early chapters examine nursing in situations of conflict in the post-Crimean period from the Indian Rebellion to the Anglo-Boer War. Recruitment, professionalisation of nursing and of military nursing in particular, are therefore considered before moving deeper into the twentieth century reflecting upon later periods of colonialism in which religion and humanitarianism become more central. Drawing from a wide range of sources from official documents to diaries, memoirs and oral sources, and using a variety of methodologies including qualitative and quantitative approaches, the book represents ground-breaking work.
Contextualising colonial and post-colonial nursing
Helen Sweet and Sue Hawkins
a number of colonial and post-colonial settings.
Whilst we have taken pains to select chapters that incorporate
nursing provided by colonial powers across Western Europe and the
USA to make this as globally representative as possible, we are well
aware that in the ten chapters that follow we can only touch the surface of the story. By the end of the First World War, and despite the
Western nations’ ‘Scramble for Africa’4 the BritishEmpire still covered about one quarter of the Earth’s total land area and ruled a population in excess of 500 million people. The
adventure novels of G. A. Henty and Henry
Rider Haggard had long provided a template for male action within
the field of enterprise that formed the BritishEmpire.4 But girls read
these novels too. And if this created a sense of dissonance – because
all the heroes were boys – they could turn to a small but burgeoning corpus of ‘girl’s own adventure’ writings. Although limited, this
included the novels of Bessie Marchant, whose heroines faced challenge and hardship and experienced ‘heroic adventure’.5 While her
plot resolutions often involved marriage, Marchant’s heroines
; as with rumours of cannibalism, reports of poison were fleeting, vague, and requiring of little evidentiary support.
Much of Messer's argument was therefore controversial at the time. Lauded not only in Sydney society but throughout the BritishEmpire as a paragon of the rational, moral, and Christianly virtues then thought to exemplify the ‘modern’ condition, Goodenough was an inauspicious target for the surgeon's claim that a ‘civilised’ state could be lost as well as
-class ladies of the BritishEmpire brought
a strong element of patriotism to their writings, even as they began
to realise that the war was not the simple crusade against a marauding Teutonic horde they had believed it to be. It also inclined them to
express a remarkable level of confidence in their own natural abilities
as nurturers of the wounded.56 A project that they embraced with particular eagerness was the presentation of nursing itself as an ordeal,
through which only the strongest could pass unscathed. The ‘truth’
that most seemed anxious to convey was that nursing
’, in practice all large hospitals (and most small ones by
the end of the century) provided some level of training and certification for their probationary nurses.28 Nevertheless, this essentially
unregulated environment created an ambiguity regarding the position
of nurses and news of ‘frivolling women’ acting as nurses from southern Africa would do nothing to promote the cause.29 Furthermore, the
nurses who served in southern Africa came from across the BritishEmpire, and British nurses, both military and civilian, found themselves working alongside nurses from the
Zone contains two significant themes.
It bears witness to the suffering of those injured by the war. And it
points out that women as well as men might be damaged as a result
of their war work – not so directly and obviously, perhaps, as men on
active service, but insidiously, as a direct result of their heavy exhausting work, long hours, and poor living and working conditions.6 Finzi’s
writing, perhaps unwittingly, undermines the imperialist propaganda
that the women of the BritishEmpire were part of an invincible force
that was fighting for the right in a simple
Adventure with the
Serbian Army, 1916–1919 (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, n.d.).
40 On the novels of Bessie Marchant, see: Michelle Smith, ‘Adventurous Girls of
the BritishEmpire: The Pre-War Novels of Bessie Marchant’, The Lion and the
Unicorn, 33.1 (2009): 1–25.
41 Sandes, An English Woman-Sergeant: 19–21.
42 Smith, The Second Battlefield: 55–6.
43 Mabel St Clair Stobart, The Flaming Sword in Serbia and Elsewhere
(London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1916): passim.
44 Stobart, Flaming Sword: 1–4.
45 Stobart, Flaming Sword: 1–4. On Mabel St Clair Stobart, see: Angela Smith