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New narratives on health, care and citizenship in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

This edited volume offers the first comprehensive historical overview of the Belgian medical field in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its chapters develop narratives that go beyond traditional representations of medicine in national overviews, which have focused mostly on state–profession interactions. Instead, the chapters bring more complex histories of health, care and citizenship. These new histories explore the relation between medicine and a variety of sociopolitical and cultural views and realities, treating themes such as gender, religion, disability, media, colonialism, education and social activism. The novelty of the book lies in its thorough attention to the (too often little studied) second half of the twentieth century and to the multiplicity of actors, places and media involved in the medical field. In assembling a variety of new scholarship, the book also makes a contribution to ‘decentring’ the European historiography of medicine by adding the perspective of a particular country – Belgium – to the literature.

Benoît Majerus and Pieter Verstraete

few years later. The Catholic University of Leuven was the only higher-education institution to provide a degree over time 12 – probably to some extent because of the important role of religious congregations in psychiatric care. Throughout the nineteenth century, psychiatrists also explored alternative approaches, which are often forgotten today but at the time were

in Medical histories of Belgium
Open Access (free)
Benoît Majerus and Joris Vandendriessche

: liberalism and Catholicism. Private initiative was not stifled; on the contrary, it was encouraged. Mental asylums in nineteenth-century Belgium, for example, were not state-run institutions like in France; they were generally run by religious congregations. In 1876, these congregations managed three-quarters of all the country’s psychiatric patients. 19 The psychiatric infrastructure shows that in Belgium, more than elsewhere in

in Medical histories of Belgium
Barbra Mann Wall

Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (Holy Rosary Sisters) and the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), Mother of Christ Sisters. The first two began as Irish congregations, or orders, whereas the latter is a religious congregation of Nigerian women. The focus on missionaries’ viewpoints provides insight into a neglected aspect of the post-colonial era in sub-Saharan Africa, the decolonisation and independence periods and what happened to healthcare during violence and massive displacement of people. Through their religious congregations, Catholic sisters worked

in Colonial caring
Open Access (free)
Joris Vandendriessche and Tine Van Osselaer

American religious congregations, women religious acted as ‘entrepreneurs’ over the past two centuries in developing modern healthcare. 6 In taking stock of this historiography, this chapter attempts a varied overview of the historical relation between medicine and religion in Belgium. To an extent, this is an exercise in balancing out a too strong political reading of the history of

in Medical histories of Belgium
Valérie Leclercq and Veronique Deblon

adjustments to in situ conditions. The persistent and imposing presence of religious congregations in the Belgian healthcare system, for instance, had a huge impact on hospital organisation in the country. Belgian hospital material culture points to the interconnectedness of care and cure, the tensions between freedom and control, and makes obvious the different meanings medical

in Medical histories of Belgium
Jolien Gijbels and Kaat Wils

– known by the local population as ‘the mother doctor’ – is a counterexample showing that religious congregations could empower female religious doctors. Marie Guido obtained her medical degree in the 1940s and worked in the Congolese locality of Musienene, where she performed medical operations such as caesarean sections and amputations. 50 Women’s entrance into the medical

in Medical histories of Belgium
Dirk Luyten and David Guilardian

in time of sickness. 6 An alternative would be to turn to home care congregations such as the Black Sisters or Alexians. 7 Institutional healthcare, provided by hospitals, was limited to nursing care provided essentially by religious congregations, with very little physician involvement. Financially, they relied almost entirely on the income of their estate and gifts

in Medical histories of Belgium