Medicine and the Saints: Science, Islam, and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956

Paperback | May 1, 2014

byEllen J. AmsterForeword byRajae El Aoued

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The colonial encounter between France and Morocco took place not only in the political realm but also in the realm of medicine. Because the body politic and the physical body are intimately linked, French efforts to colonize Morocco took place in and through the body. Starting from this original premise, Medicine and the Saints traces a history of colonial embodiment in Morocco through a series of medical encounters between the Islamic sultanate of Morocco and the Republic of France from 1877 to 1956.

Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in both French and Arabic, Ellen Amster investigates the positivist ambitions of French colonial doctors, sociologists, philologists, and historians; the social history of the encounters and transformations occasioned by French medical interventions; and the ways in which Moroccan nationalists ultimately appropriated a French model of modernity to invent the independent nation-state. Each chapter of the book addresses a different problem in the history of medicine: international espionage and a doctor's murder; disease and revolt in Moroccan cities; a battle for authority between doctors and Muslim midwives; and the search for national identity in the welfare state. This research reveals how Moroccans ingested and digested French science and used it to create a nationalist movement and Islamist politics, and to understand disease and health. In the colonial encounter, the Muslim body became a seat of subjectivity, the place from which individuals contested and redefined the political.

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The colonial encounter between France and Morocco took place not only in the political realm but also in the realm of medicine. Because the body politic and the physical body are intimately linked, French efforts to colonize Morocco took place in and through the body. Starting from this original premise, Medicine and the Saints traces ...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:350 pages, 9.01 × 6 × 0.75 inPublished:May 1, 2014Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292762119

ISBN - 13:9780292762114

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Rajae El AouedAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Colonial EmbodimentsChapter 1. Healing the Body, Healing the Umma: Sufi Saints and God's Law in a Corporeal City of VirtueChapter 2. Medicine and the Mission Civilisatrice: A Civilizing Science and the French Sociology of Islam in Algeria and Morocco, 1830–1912Chapter 3. The Many Deaths of Dr. Émile Mauchamp: Contested Sovereignties and Body Politics at the Court of the Sultans, 1877–1912Chapter 4. Frédéric Le Play in Morocco? The Paradoxes of French Hygiene and Colonial Association in the Moroccan City, 1912–1937Chapter 5. Harem Medicine and the Sleeping Child: Law, Traditional Pharmacology, and the Gender of Medical AuthorityChapter 6. A Midwife to Modernity: The Biopolitics of Colonial Welfare and Birthing a Scientific Moroccan Nation, 1936-1956Epilogue. Epistemologies Embodied: Islam, France, and the PostcolonialNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

The colonial encounter between France and Morocco took place not only in the political realm but also in the realm of medicine. Because the body politic and the physical body are intimately linked, French efforts to colonize Morocco took place in and through the body. Starting from this original premise, Medicine and the Saints traces a history of colonial embodiment in Morocco through a series of medical encounters between the Islamic sultanate of Morocco and the Republic of France from 1877 to 1956. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in both French and Arabic, Ellen Amster investigates the positivist ambitions of French colonial doctors, sociologists, philologists, and historians; the social history of the encounters and transformations occasioned by French medical interventions; and the ways in which Moroccan nationalists ultimately appropriated a French model of modernity to invent the independent nation-state. Each chapter of the book addresses a different problem in the history of medicine: international espionage and a doctor’s murder; disease and revolt in Moroccan cities; a battle for authority between doctors and Muslim midwives; and the search for national identity in the welfare state. This research reveals how Moroccans ingested and digested French science and used it to create a nationalist movement and Islamist politics, and to understand disease and health. In the colonial encounter, the Muslim body became a seat of subjectivity, the place from which individuals contested and redefined the political.This is a dazzlingly good book. Amster takes us on a bewildering tour of medicine and public health in colonial Morocco in a pioneering study. Health was a critical site of contestation in the protectorate. . . . The differences of authority between doctor and patient were dramatically exacerbated by the gulfs of power in the colonial state. Western biomedical and local Islamic epistemologies produced enormous conflict, and yet opened a critical space of resistance to colonial rule. . . . As opposed to those who would find in colonial medicine a demon of oppression, or those who would use it to excuse colonial excesses, Amster has produced a nuanced study that opens an important window on the enormous complexity of medicine and public health as a staging area for the colonial encounter. Among other critical elements of the book, she places the intersection of gender and religion at the forefront, making this a truly notable addition to the literature. - Richard Keller, Associate Professor, Department of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin–Madison