Imperial Medicine: Patrick Manson and the Conquest of Tropical Disease

Imperial Medicine: Patrick Manson and the Conquest of Tropical Disease

Imperial Medicine: Patrick Manson and the Conquest of Tropical Disease

Imperial Medicine: Patrick Manson and the Conquest of Tropical Disease

Synopsis

In 1866 Patrick Manson, a young Scottish doctor fresh from medical school, left London to launch his career in China as a port surgeon for the Imperial Chinese Customs Service. For the next two decades, he served in this outpost of British power in the Far East, and extended the frontiers of British medicine. In 1899, at the twilight of his career and as the British Empire approached its zenith, he founded the London School of Tropical Medicine. For these contributions Manson would later be called the "father of British tropical medicine."

In Imperial Medicine: Patrick Manson and the Conquest of Tropical Disease Douglas M. Haynes uses Manson's career to explore the role of British imperialism in the making of Victorian medicine and science. He challenges the categories of "home" and "empire" that have long informed accounts of British medicine and science, revealing a vastly more dynamic, dialectical relationship between the imperial metropole and periphery than has previously been recognized. Manson's decision to launch his career in China was no accident; the empire provided a critical source of career opportunities for a chronically overcrowded profession in Britain. And Manson used the London media's interest in the empire to advance his scientific agenda, including the discovery of the transmission of malaria in 1898, which he portrayed as British science.

The empire not only created a demand for practitioners but also enhanced the presence of British medicine throughout the world. Haynes documents how the empire subsidized research science at the London School of Tropical Medicine and elsewhere in Britain in the early twentieth century. By illuminating the historical enmeshment of Victorian medicine and science in Britain's imperial project, Imperial Medicine identifies the present-day privileged distribution of specialist knowledge about disease with the lingering consequences of European imperialism.

Excerpt

Also please do not change “England” to “Scotland”: the sense of the pas
sage is that he left home too young to have made acquaintance with any
big men at headquarters (which is London, not Scotland) who might have
been a weight onto his feet afterwards and might have done for him what
he [Manson] did for Ross. So it should be “England.” Scotland would be
grotesque, since all Soctchmen come to England for their opportunity
.

Colonel A. alcock to P. H. MANSON-BAHR
8 October 1926, regarding their biography of Patrick Manson

Quinine is as valuable to a man shivering with ague as a piece of grey
shirting; and when he knows this he will ask for it, and get it. But if
grey shirtings were only to be got from one or two charitable individu
als, either the mass would probably remain ignorant of their existence,
or the charity of these individuals be soon exhausted. Private enterprise
would be choked by the give-away-for-nothing system of the philanthro
pist, and certainly clothes for the millions would not be forthcoming. Left
to the wholesome influence of supply and demand, we know how mar
velous has been the result, and so it should be with quinine
.

Patrick manson
Medical and Surgical Report for the Amoy (China) Missionary Hospital for 1873

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