Frontiers of Medicine in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1899-1940

By Heather Bell | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

Negotiating the boundary between research and practice was the defining problem for the WTRL throughout its existence. The circumstances of the WTRL's founding gave it institutional independence, but this did not mean that WTRL scientists pursued research projects irrelevant to the colonial administration. On the contrary: one of the main achievements of the WTRL under Balfour was persuading government officials that research laboratories offered services of value to the colonial enterprise. One could argue that this strategy of showing the relevance of research to, in particular, the practice of medicine and agriculture succeeded too well. Research had come to be considered such an integral part of the 'medical' and the 'agricultural' in Sudan that inter-war departments sought sustained support for their ambitious new projects and control over research personnel and planning. The resulting debates showed that 'scientific' and 'practical' men were highly mistrustful of one another and conceptualized the organizational relationship between research and practice in different, if shifting, ways. Just as the First World War had prompted devolution to field laboratories, the depression years, which brought the collapse of the cotton crop and government-wide retrenchment, proved decisive in determining the demise of the WTRL.

If, at least on the medical side, reorganization brought only minor changes to routine, research, and educational work, and if researchers and practitioners continued to work together productively in spite of organizational debate, we may ask why the organizational structure was so fiercely contested. It may of course be that there was more tension over working together than the available sources reveal. But the question still remains: why, at this time and in this place, did the location of the organizational boundaries between research and practice become so important? Personalities undoubtedly had a great deal to do with it, but the fact that similar debates about the organization and control of medical and agricultural research, pitting researcher against practitioner, were being rehearsed in Britain at the same time, suggests that something broader was going on.144 In Sudan, the debates emerged from the growing reach of the colonial state and the increasing responsibilities being placed on research-

____________________
144
Joan Austoker, "'Walter Morley Fletcher and the Origins of a Basic Biomedical Research Policy'", 23-33; Linda Bryder, "'Public Health Research and the MRC'", 67-70; Celia Petty , "'Primary Research and Public Health: The Prioritization of Nutrition Research in Inter-War Britain'", 89-90, all in Austoker and Bryder (eds.), Historical Perspectives; Timothy DeJager , "'Pure Science and Practical Interests: The Origins of the Agricultural Research Council, 1930-1937'", Minerva, 31 ( 1993), 125-50.

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Frontiers of Medicine in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1899-1940
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations x
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • GLOSSARY xiv
  • I- The Boundaries of Colonial Medicine 1
  • 2: Medical Policy and Medical Practitioners 22
  • 3- The Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories and the Organization Of Research 55
  • Conclusion 88
  • Conclusion 124
  • 5- Sleeping Sickness and the Ordering Of the South 127
  • Conclusion 161
  • 6- The International Construction Of Yellow Fever 163
  • Conclusion 195
  • 7- Midwifery Training and the Politics Of Female Circumcision 198
  • Conclusion 226
  • 8- Conclusion 229
  • Bibliography 234
  • Index 255
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