Medicine, public health, and the Qa?ja?r state: patterns of medical modernization in nineteenth-century Iran,
Leiden, The Netherlands; Boston, USA, Brill, 274pp.
(Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series, 4).
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This book arises out of research on medical modernisation in 19th-century Iran. A new dimension was added to the theoretical approach when the author discovered a unique and unstudied Persian manuscript on “the development and organisation of the state hospital (s)” in 19th-century Iran, written by an unnamed army physician, who talked about the necessity of the development of state hospitals and lay emphasis on medical modernisation while referring to Galenico-Islamic medical literature. This paradox, however, dissipates once we realises that for this author modernisation meant to reorganise the existing medical system within a new institutional setting. It is this manuscript, which has been translated into English and edited as the second part of my book. The manuscript also points to the regularisation of the medical practice, whether modern or traditional, and control of the state. Part One of the book is devoted to provide a review of the history of hospitals in Iran, while reassessing the current historiography. Chapter two centres on the reform movement in 19th century Iran in relation to the public health. Chapter Three’s endeavour is to find an answer to the enigma of the first state hospital in 19th century Iran, the identity of the anonymous author of the manuscript and the approximate date when it was written. Chapter Four is devoted to the institutional reform in medicine that went hand in hand with the state centralisation under the Qâjârs. Chapter Five, calls into question the current classification of traditional versus modern medicine in 19th-century Iran by asking how we can situate physicians who were neither absolutely traditional nor entirely modern.
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