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6 The Tropical Diseases Research Fund and Specialist Science at the London School of Tropical Medicine 154 CHAPTER 6 T HE domestication oftropical disease research ignited another metropolitan conflict involving the imperial state and the London School of Tropical Medicine. Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain hoped to promote research in disease and health in the empire domestically through the Tropical Diseases Research Fund. Although subsidized by Crown Colonies and the government of India, the Fund was only tangentially concerned with the explicit needs ofthe empire. Instead, as a new source ofmetropolitan funding, it rapidly emerged as an important institution in shaping the landscape of research science in Britain. This prospect, more than anything else, polarized the deliberations of the advisory board. The feuding between Patrick Manson and Sir Michael Foster over the location ofspecialtypositions inprotozoologyand entomology revolved around the institutional politics of funding for metropolitan science. Ultimately, the London School prevailed, not because it was a more deserving institution, but because the Colonial Office had already designated it an imperial institution. The politics of tropical research funding underscores the historically uneven power relationship between the imperial state and metropolitan science. Until the 1890s, the Colonial Office delegated the problem ofdisease to the colonies . The emphasis on primarycare, togetherwith medical crises, in the peripherycreateda space for the assertion ofimperial leadership. Since the periphery had few institutional resources of its own, Chamberlain extended to the colonies a level of expertise that theywere either unable or unwillingto provide for themselves by capitalizingon the dependence of the Royal Society on financial support from the imperial state. The later establishment of a regular source of revenue for imperial research enhanced the power of the Colonial Office. As this chapter will show, the Tropical Diseases Research Fund simultaneously consolidated the roles ofthe Colonial Office as an important source ofexpertise for the empire and as an influential patron of metropolitan science. The Formation ofthe Tropical Diseases Research Fund For most of the nineteenth century, Britain did not cultivate research into the diseases ofits dependent empire as an official policy. Nor did the Colonial Office in London possess the personnel, much less the discretionary resources, to shoulder this responsibility. Its three medical advisers in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin mainly assessed the health ofprospective and career imperial servants and did little else unless specifically requested.1As a department ofstate, the Colonial Office was entitled to the services ofthe medical officer ofthe Local LONDON SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE 155 Government Board, whose salaryit subsidized.2 There is little evidence that the services of the medical officer were solicited, much less viewed as a resource for the empire. This gap should be seen not as indifference or even as the perceivedlimitations ofmedical science but, rather, as a function ofthe social production ofimperial medicine. As a large metropolitan employer, the ColonialOffice recruited qualified general practitioners for the local medical services of the dependent empire. Nor did the imperial service attract specialists, much less researchers. On the contrary, imperial appointments were tolerable to underemployed general practitioners precisely because they did not require any further training beyond the minimum needed to be placed on the medical register. For colonial governments faced with limited human and other resources and potentially unlimited health-care demands, general practitioners proved to be highly functional . Beyond discharging their duties as primary-care givers at local hospitals , asylums, and prisons, imperial doctors also served in other capacities. Such a doctor might be the sanitaryofficer ofa district, a publicvaccinator, or a representative of the colonial government when giving testimony or certifying births and deaths.3 The very utility of general practitioners was not without its drawbacks. It circumscribed the authority of imperial doctors as agents of preventive medicine and virtually ruled out research as an integral component of their official duties. This did not mean that colonial governments were wholly indifferent to the health ofthe colonies or the colonized.4 As a matter of fact, colonial governments authorized a wide spectrum ofordinances that dealtwith general health. These covered financing public works projects such as establishing and maintaining water systems, improving the collection and removal of sewage, buildinghospitals and cemeteries, preventingthe spread ofrabies by regulating dog ownership, and imposing quarantine measures against cholera and plague.5 These and other measures depended not on the authority of imperial doctors but, rather, on a host of variables. These included the advice of sanitaryengineers , previous encounters with infectious or contagious diseases, the commitment of the colonial governor or administrator, the availability of local financial resources, and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780812202212
Related ISBN
9780812235982
MARC Record
OCLC
859160751
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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