Open Access (free)
Medicine and culture in the nineteenth century

This collaborative volume explores changing perceptions of health and disease in the context of the burgeoning global modernities of the long nineteenth century. During this period, popular and medical understandings of the mind and body were challenged, modified, and reframed by the politics and structures of ‘modern life’, understood in industrial, social, commercial, and technological terms. Bringing together work by leading international scholars, this volume demonstrates how a multiplicity of medical practices were organised around new and evolving definitions of the modern self. The study offers varying and culturally specific definitions of what constituted medical modernity for practitioners around the world in this period. Chapters examine the ways in which cancer, suicide, and social degeneration were seen as products of the stresses and strains of ‘new’ ways of living in the nineteenth century, and explore the legal, institutional, and intellectual changes that contributed to both positive and negative understandings of modern medical practice. The volume traces the ways in which physiological and psychological problems were being constituted in relation to each other, and to their social contexts, and offers new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the twenty-first century.

Cancer, modernity, and decline in fin-de-siècle Britain
Agnes Arnold-Forster

. This body of literature dealt with the ‘apparent paradox’ that civilisation itself ‘might be the catalyst of, as much as the defence against, physical and social pathology’. 41 Fin-de-siècle commenters were anxious that neither the ‘natural’ triumph of the ‘civilising’ imperial Western powers, nor the stability of the racial order, was guaranteed. Such a socio-cultural evolutionary viewpoint was characteristic of British anthropology after c . 1860 and infiltrated a range of academic pursuits

in Progress and pathology
Open Access (free)
Melissa Dickson, Emilie Taylor-Brown and Sally Shuttleworth

The present volume, which examines the correlations that were being drawn between notions of progress and pathology across a diverse range of socio-economic cultures in the long nineteenth century beginning with the French Revolution, interrogates such notions of exceptionalism. Our purview is deliberately transnational, drawing on case studies from Britain, America, France, Germany, Finland, Bengal, China, and the South Pacific, in order to provide rich comparative perspectives on medical responses to, and constructions of, modernity, while demonstrating that

in Progress and pathology
Fatigue and the fin de siècle
Steffan Blayney

’ and ‘chronic’ forms. 29 Increasingly, distinctions were drawn between normal and pathological states of fatigue, or ‘between fatigue and over-fatigue’. 30 By the early twentieth century the ‘pathology of fatigue’ was also supplemented by a proliferation of related conditions, from ‘fatigue dyspepsia’ to ‘exhaustion psychosis’. 31 The particular discursive configuration of

in Progress and pathology
Open Access (free)
The ‘pathology’ of childhood in late nineteenth-century London
Steven Taylor

, and familial viewpoints, would fit somewhere between these binaries. This chapter concentrates on those that congregated around notions and conceptions of ‘imperfection’. It is therefore important to delve a little deeper into what is meant by the idea of ‘pathology’ in this context. In its strictest definition the term refers to the scientific process of exploring the causes of disease through the inspection of bodily materials. However, the phrase has evolved into common usage and developed a pseudo-scientific social meaning. Those whom we

in Progress and pathology
Open Access (free)
Health as moral economy in the long nineteenth century
Christopher Hamlin

retard? By this standard the pathologies of progress are at a disadvantage. George Beard's neurasthenia, flagship of the conditions considered here (can we even call them diseases?), is no longer a medical entity, only a curious conceptual relic. Given that we have decided that the persons thus diagnosed had no such disease, must we throw out their whining? Without a way to validate what brings suffering persons to clinical encounters, we risk doing that. One sort of validation comes from subjectivity: we have suffered from analogous conditions

in Progress and pathology
The Fowlers and modern brain disorder
Kristine Swenson

neurodiversity movement, offers a more positive and less dangerous response to mainstream medicine's stance on autism as largely untreatable. Though not a ‘new phrenology’, the neurodiversity movement shares certain features with the Fowlers’ practical phrenology, both in theory and methods. Neurodiversity activists pursue alternatives to the ‘pathology paradigm’ surrounding the rise in neurological disorder diagnoses, and argue that neurodiversity is both a ‘natural and a valuable form of human diversity’. 105 Neurodiversity

in Progress and pathology
Open Access (free)
The hygienic utopia in Jules Verne, Camille Flammarion, and William Morris
Manon Mathias

defeat in the Franco-Prussian war and at a point when France was acutely aware of its ailing position on the world stage, with falling birth rates, and a range of serious pathologies plaguing the nation. 97 Docteur Sarrasin in Bégum , for example, reads an article at the beginning of the novel, entitled ‘Why are all Frenchmen suffering from varying degrees of hereditary degeneration?’  98 There is therefore a dark side to the relentless emphasis on health and strength

in Progress and pathology
Mikko Myllykangas

voluntary, or were somehow predetermined by social and cultural forces. The mounting statistical data on rising suicide rates provided groundwork for the idea that suicide was an illness of society rather than an outcome of voluntary human behaviour or, in a more modern view, a specific and individualised pathology. 31 Towards the end of the century, suicide together with madness was increasingly interpreted as a symptom of harmful aspects of modernity, but also as a sign of civilisation that separated modern nations from

in Progress and pathology
Daktar Binodbihari Ray Kabiraj and the metaphorics of the nineteenth-century Ayurvedic body
Projit Bihari Mukharji

‘Western’ medicine is not the only tradition to have engaged with constructions of modernity. During the nineteenth century, so-called ‘traditional’ medicines around the globe were also forced to confront the notion of modernity in all its diversity. The Ayurveda tradition of South Asia was one such medical practice, and at the core of this chapter by Projit Bihari Mukharji is a demonstration of the modernity of Ayurveda. The interplay between Ayurvedic practice and social, cultural, and economic change in nineteenth-century South Asia was, he shows, twofold. Ayurvedic physicians such as Daktar Binodbihari Ray Kabiraj not only developed a self-conscious discourse about modernity and its effects upon the body and mind, but they explicitly drew upon the language of modernity in order to radically reconfigure the Ayurvedic body. Railways and telegraphs, for these physicians, were not simply new material realities; they were also a rich ideational resource that encouraged and inspired them to think in new ways about the human body and its operations.

in Progress and pathology