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

ELLEN J. AMSTER
FOREWORD BY RAJAE EL AOUED
Copyright Date: 2013
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/745445
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    Medicine and the Saints
    Book Description:

    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 Saintstraces 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-74545-2
    Subjects: History, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Rajae El Aoued

    I must say that I am deeply honored that Mme. Ellen Amster has asked me to write the foreword to her book about the history of the health system in Morocco.

    This extensively researched work is a veritable mine of information for us and for the generations to come. It constitutes, henceforth, the authoritative reference on the subject. It permits us to understand the evolution of the Moroccan health service, its strengths and its weaknesses, and its impact on the health of the population.

    In light of this past, and facing the contemporary challenges to health in Morocco today, what...

  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION. COLONIAL EMBODIMENTS
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 1907, a doctor of the French government was beaten to death by a Muslim mob in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. After clubbing him to death and crushing his head, the crowd dragged the naked corpse of Dr. Émile Mauchamp by the neck through the city streets on a rope. This gruesome spectacle served as the pretext for the French invasion of Oujda in 1907 and the establishment of a French protectorate in Morocco in 1912. At his funeral, the French minister of Foreign Affairs eulogized Mauchamp as “civilization’s martyr” to a fanatical Islamic hatred of science. But just...

  6. CHAPTER 1 HEALING THE BODY, HEALING THE UMMA: SUFI SAINTS AND GOD’S LAW IN A CORPOREAL CITY OF VIRTUE
    (pp. 17-50)

    After a failed revolt against the Saʿdiyyan sultan ʿAbdallah II (ruled 1613–1623), the city of Fez feared his vengeance and sent two mad saints (majdhubin) to intercede on its behalf with the enraged ruler. When the sultan received the two emissaries, Sidi Jallul bin al-Haj and Sidi Masaʿud al-Sharrat, he scoffed, “The people of Fez couldn’t find any to mediate for them but these two shitters in their rags” (literally, “he who evacuates his bowels”).¹ Angered, Sidi Jallul replied, “By God, you will not have a free hand [in Fez] for forty-one years,” and the saints departed. Suddenly, the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 MEDICINE AND THE MISSION CIVILISATRICE: A CIVILIZING SCIENCE AND THE FRENCH SOCIOLOGY OF ISLAM IN ALGERIA AND MOROCCO, 1830–1912
    (pp. 51-81)

    In 1883, the french orientalist and philologist Ernest Renan announced a revolutionary position: Islam killed science, “Islamism and science … ‫ The ambivalence contained in these words: Arab science, Arab philosophy, Arab Art, Muslim science, Muslim civilization. In killing science, Islam killed itself and condemned itself to a complete inferiority in the world.”¹ The Third Republic (1870–1940), the moment when the Rights of Man were finally applied in France, was also the era of French imperial expansion and scientific racism. This was not a contradiction, for the French Republic was simultaneously universalist and racist, delineating the irrational, the primitive,...

  8. CHAPTER 3 THE MANY DEATHS OF DR. ÉMILE MAUCHAMP: CONTESTED SOVEREIGNTIES AND BODY POLITICS AT THE COURT OF THE SULTANS, 1877–1912
    (pp. 82-109)

    On march 19, 1907, French physician Émile Mauchamp was beaten to death outside his clinic in the city of Marrakesh. This spectacular murder served as the official pretext for a French military invasion of the city of Oujda in 1907 and the creation of a French protectorate in Morocco in 1912. The French ambassador to Morocco, Henri Regnault, eulogized the doctor as a martyr to France’s civilizing mission, “the evolution of peoples is never accomplished without sacrifices and without victims.”¹ Mauchamp’s biographer Jules Bois suggested that antiscientific Islamic “sorcery” was responsible: “The sorcerers jealously conserve corrupted and corrupting traditions …...

  9. CHAPTER 4 FRÉDÉRIC LE PLAY IN MOROCCO? THE PARADOXES OF FRENCH HYGIENE AND COLONIAL ASSOCIATION IN THE MOROCCAN CITY, 1912–1937
    (pp. 110-141)

    Walking the markets of mogador, the physician Charles Bouveret remarked that “certain bakers whose ovens are located a distance from the place of sale have natives who are dirty and often infected with sickness transport the breads. I saw a Jew with conjunctivitis carrying breads in his arms such that pus from his eyes was spreading across the bread.”¹ Haj Masgini, a Muslim member of the Municipal Hygiene Bureau (Bureau Municipal d’Hygiène; BMH) agreed: “[The vendors] put the bread right on the ground, where dust and even mud are spattered on it.”² Together, Bouveret and native elites regulated food, founded...

  10. CHAPTER 5 HAREM MEDICINE AND THE SLEEPING CHILD: LAW, TRADITIONAL PHARMACOLOGY, AND THE GENDER OF MEDICAL AUTHORITY
    (pp. 142-173)

    In 1921, the editors of the premier journal of French medicine in Morocco,Maroc médical, complained to their readers that the Muslim Moroccan matron undermined the French doctor: “[She is] known to be hostile to us and to put pressure on the patient to turn from our orders to her own remedies—leg of frog or earth from the cemetery.”¹ To discover her secrets, the doctors commissioned the wife of a French colonial officer, Aline Reveillaud de Lens, to observe her Muslim female neighbors in the harems of Meknes and report on their medical practices. First appearing as a series...

  11. CHAPTER 6 A MIDWIFE TO MODERNITY: THE BIOPOLITICS OF COLONIAL WELFARE AND BIRTHING A SCIENTIFIC MOROCCAN NATION, 1936–1956
    (pp. 174-208)

    In 1952, the french physician Jean Mathieu and the sociologist Roger Maneville interviewed 167 traditional Muslim midwives (qablat) to determine their suitability for the “veritable corps of Moroccan midwives” planned for native women by the protectorate health service, with “modern ideas of hygiene and pediatrics.”¹ It is unsurprising that the report rejected the Muslimqablaas dangerous—obstetricians in Europe also attacked midwives to redefine birth as the physician’s province. But for Morocco, the study placed entire responsibility for the social ills of colonial industrialization on the Muslim midwife.² And it was theqabla’s way of thinking that precluded Moroccans...

  12. EPILOGUE. EPISTEMOLOGIES EMBODIED: ISLAM, FRANCE, AND THE POSTCOLONIAL
    (pp. 209-220)

    In 1999, i interviewed elderly Moroccan patients at a public health clinic in the Lamtiyyin neighborhood, a working-class area in the traditional city (madina) of Fez. “Do you want to meet a real hero?” asks Mawlay ʿAli, in his seventies. “My mother is ninety-five years old, and she gave birth by herself.” I became a frequent guest at the home of his mother, My Khaddouj, a tiny woman who explained to me that the powers ofbaraka(blessing) given to her by God protect her from illness, keep her hennaed hair free of grey, and allow her to deliver babies...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 221-278)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 279-316)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 317-334)