Medical Imperialism in French North Africa

Medical Imperialism in French North Africa

Regenerating the Jewish Community of Colonial Tunis

Richard C. Parks

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

216 pages
3 maps, index

Hardcover

October 2017

978-0-8032-6845-6

$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

French-colonial Tunisia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed shifting concepts of identity, including varying theories of ethnic essentialism, a drive toward “modernization,” and imperialist interpretations of science and medicine. As French colonizers worked to realize ideas of a “modern” city and empire, they undertook a program to significantly alter the physical and social realities by which the people of Tunisia lived, often in ways that continue to influence life today.

Medical Imperialism in French North Africa demonstrates the ways in which diverse members of the Jewish community of Tunis received, rejected, or reworked myriad imperial projects devised to foster the social, corporeal, and moral “regeneration” of their community. Buttressed by the authority of science and medicine, regenerationist schemes such as urban renewal projects and public health reforms were deployed to destroy and recast the cultural, social, and political lives of Jewish colonial subjects. Richard C. Parks expands on earlier scholarship to examine how notions of race, class, modernity, and otherness shaped these efforts. Looking at such issues as the plasticity of identity, the collaboration and contention between French and Tunisian Jewish communities, Jewish women’s negotiation of social power relationships in Tunis, and the razing of the city’s Jewish quarter, Parks fills the gap in current literature by focusing on the broader transnational context of French actions in colonial Tunisia.

 

Author Bio

Richard C. Parks is an academic specialist in the history of science and medicine at Michigan State University.
 

Praise

“Richard Parks adds new layers to our understanding of the interactions between colonizer and colonized in Tunisia, demonstrating how European ideologies and methodologies were challenged and reinterpreted on the ground. In doing so, he also sheds a new and powerful light on the complex interethnic landscape of colonial Tunisia.”—Maud S. Mandel, Dean of the College at Brown University and author of Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict 
 

“In his highly original study, Richard Parks poses a fundamental question: Did a Tunisian Jewish community historically exist during the colonial era? Ethnographically and conceptually rich, this work employs the notion of regeneration to probe multiple kinds of lived and imagined social space—urban, hygienic, residential, reproductive, and associative. The author’s sustained and nuanced attention to issues of women and gender makes this book particularly compelling.”—Julia Clancy-Smith, professor of history at the University of Arizona and author of Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800–1900

Table of Contents

List of Maps
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Situating Regeneration: Medicine, Science, and “Modern” Bodies
2. Regenerating Space: Destruction and Divided Communities
3. Regenerating Space, Part 2: Not All Ghettoes Are the Same
4. Regenerating Youth: The Role of the Alliance and the Rise of Zionism
5. Regenerating Women: The Assertion of Reproductive Control
Conclusion: A Brief Reflection on Identity
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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