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States of Emergency: Colonial Doctors, Violence, and the End of Empire in Kenya and Algeria, 1952-1962

Moul, Russell (2020) States of Emergency: Colonial Doctors, Violence, and the End of Empire in Kenya and Algeria, 1952-1962. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:81911)

Language: English

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Medical involvement in acts of violence, especially torture, seem irreconcilable with the ethics of professional conduct as reflected in The Hippocratic Oath and enshrined in post-war medical ethics codes and the human rights regime. Through a comparative assessment of doctors involved in the counterinsurgency campaigns in French Algeria and British Kenya during the 1950s, this thesis will demonstrate the varying degrees to which a range of medical experts came to actively or passively support the practice of torture and other forms of repressive violence in these colonial conflicts. Remarkably, the role medical professionals played in counterinsurgency efforts, especially in relation to actual violent practices during states of emergency, has received little cogent historical attention. This is especially true for the final years of the colonial era when both France and Britain encountered violent challenges to their rule. In these contexts, the colonial authorities used wide-ranging emergency powers to establish networks of detention centres, camps, and resettlement villages to interrogate and hold suspected 'terrorists' and troublesome populations. Within these centres, detainees experienced harsh conditions and a pervasive atmosphere of violence which was, to a lesser or greater degree, monitored and sustained by medical experts working for the colonial authorities.

This thesis represents the first detailed comparative history of medical involvement in French and British counterinsurgency violence in Algeria and Kenya. It adopts a diachronic approach that examines the place of medicine and its practitioners within the wider social, economic and political milieu of the respective colonies and reveals them to be complex and deeply embedded social actors within these territories. As such, doctors working and living in the colonies had various personal stakes in the survival of the colonial order. These interests, this thesis argues, coupled with their loyalties to the colonial authorities, sometimes resulted in practitioners taking part in torture and other inhumane acts. To achieve this, the thesis utilises a range of recently declassified archives in both France and Britain, which allows it to unite multiple disparate historiographical trends related to colonial violence, medical participation in human rights violations, and the history of colonial medicine more generally. In particular, the study examines the concept of the 'dual loyalty dilemma' to assess the various pressures that may have led doctors to participate in violence. The findings of this work highlight the importance local factors on the ground played in shaping the conduct and extent to which a given doctor became entangled in the wider atmosphere of violence in these conflicts, which should caution us against simplistic explanations for why individuals participate in atrocities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Schmidt, Ulf
Thesis advisor: Macola, Giacomo
Uncontrolled keywords: Colonial Medicine; Violence; Torture; History of Medicine
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: [UNSPECIFIED] The University of Kent
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 12:10 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2021 10:11 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Moul, Russell.

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