Abstract

SUMMARY:

The article by Elena Vishlenkova tells the story of the emergence of the professional medical corporation in Russia in the first half of the nineteenth century. The article delves into a great number of new archival and published materials that throw light on the relationships between the “enlightened state” – the principal subject of Russia’s modernization – and the physicians who were sponsored and educated by the state. Physicians in the state service were integrated into the system of bureaucratic ranks, enjoyed special benefits and social prestige. The wide popularity of traditional medicine and the low level of trust demonstrated by the lower classes toward professional (“European”) medicine only encouraged the alliance between Russian physicians and the imperial state. All of this distinguished the Russian case from other European medical professions, where private physicians and independent professional corporations dominated the scene. Being patronized by the imperial government, Russian physicians actively participated in its civilization efforts aimed at creating a regular state and society in Russia. The ideological basis for this alliance was found in the philosophy of the “police state” and “sciences of policing” in which medicine and a medicalized approach toward social domain played a very important role. The article treats in detail a number of initiatives that this alliance has generated, such as physicians’ active engagement in producing medical-topographic reports on the localities where they worked and their self-fashioning as population experts in the empire. They produced new rational knowledge about the society and suggested methods for treating its “diseases.” The state was the major sponsor of this knowledge production. Vishlenkova traces the evolution of this alliance throughout the first part of the nineteenth century, and the growing disparity between the goals of the Russian “police state” and the understanding of their social mission by the gradually empowered community of Russian physicians.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 47-79
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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