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Conclusion Karen Brown Contributors to this volume have described a number of important case studies from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia. Collectively, they have explored the gradual professionalization of veterinary services as a result of developments in science and technology and the growing powers of the state, as well as the emergence of veterinary departments either in response to economic opportunities and/or the impact of devastating epizootics such as rinderpest. In addition, some of the authors have looked at the initiatives of farmers and pastoralists whose understandings of the disease environment were and continue to be based on individual observation, backed by generations of practical experience in the field. At times, local knowledge was at odds with the aims and directives of the official veterinary establishment. For many livestock owners, veterinary incursions were deemed of little use unless they resulted in the ostensible saving of animal lives, produced a notable increase in profits, or were compatible with existing agricultural and labor practices. With the exception of the chapters by Dominik Hünniger and Peter Koolmees, the histori-  | Karen Brown cal time frame has been heavily centered on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when there was a shift in Western approaches to the etiology of diseases, brought about by the growing ascendancy of germ theories. These changes occurred contemporaneously with the expansion of centralized political control in Europe, North America, and some European colonies, facilitating the emergence of veterinary departments as adjuncts of modernizing states. The chapters also showed that tensions abounded between promoters of Western, technical biomedical science and guardians of folk knowledge, between governments and populace, between colonial rulers and their subjects. Together these chapters make a significant contribution to the existing historiography on veterinary science and livestock economies, which as the introduction revealed, is rather slim. They point the way to a range of potential topics for further study and provide a baseline for comparative research on a number of diseases and themes. Drawing upon this collection and some of the recent literature in the history of human medicine, I will consider some of the many possible ways forward. A cursory glance at the contents list alone invokes three key observations : the absence of Latin America; the prominence of rinderpest as a catalyst for veterinary interventions and reforms; and the dominance of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But as Hünniger and Koolmees have shown, it is possible to find documents relating to earlier periods, at least for western Europe. Further research in this field could unearth some interesting revelations about the nature and impact of disease on livestock economies, the part played by cross-border trade and warfare in the dissemination of epizootics, popular understandings and responses to animal infections, and limits to the authority of medieval and early modern states. Latin America, with its important cattle economy, has enormous potential for research. This is especially so as, along with the Caribbean, it has some unique epidemiological features, such as the transmission of paralytic rabies by vampire bats, which Rita Pemberton referred to in her contribution on Trinidad and Tobago. More work on rinderpest would be equally rewarding because of its transcontinental spread through trade, warfare, and colonialism. The rinderpest panzootic of the late nineteenth century, for example, could be explored in a global context that examines how and why diseases cross continents and how people on the spot responded to livestock crises in different parts of the world. Myron Echenberg’s recent publication on the bubonic plague pandemic, which was almost concurrent with this rinderpest panzootic, mirrors some of the ideas and challenges that surrounded the spread of rinderpest and provides an interesting example Conclusion |  of a historiographic approach that could be adapted for a monograph on a livestock disease.1 Moving from the contents page to the chapters themselves, a notable omission is the question of gender. This book is about men: male livestock owners and traders, male responses to livestock diseases, male scientists, not to mention male-dominated governments and veterinary departments. Far more historical research needs to be carried out into the role of women in livestock economies and how this varied from place to place and altered over time. In many African societies, for example, rural women had a very specialized knowledge of medicinal plants and might have contributed to the development of local pharmacopoeia for the treatment of animals. Colonialism also had a marked impact on the position of women in African societies. Customary taboos that existed in...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821443101
Related ISBN
9780821418857
MARC Record
OCLC
681350866
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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