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Josette Duncan

As a nineteenth-century social historian of medicine, my research specialises in colonial history of medicine, history of isolation, quarantine as well as regulationism, institutionalisation, colonial public health and medical charities.

My doctoral thesis is entitled "Health, Dominion and the Mediterranean: Colonial Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Malta, Cyprus and the Ionian Islands"

About My Research:

This study incorporates three main case studies with similar geo-strategic positions in the Mediterranean and comparable general political history. These islands were all under British rule at some time during the 19th century. I propose that charities in these islands constitute important case studies, shedding light on the cultural and social discourse between colonizers and colonized in hitherto unexplored contexts. The analysis of the medical and health care systems on these islands offers a new perspective on 19th century British colonialism and its relation to health care. This study will deal with various issues including diverse cultures and three main monotheistic religions in the region. It will be informed by research in other colonial contexts but will then address specifically the Mediterranean historical scene and the policies of the British Colonial office in these parts of the British Empire.

In order to understand the cultural background of these islands, one needs a firm grasp of the history of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding land. Essentially this area is the melting pot of East-West and North-South differences. It is the Sea which saw the birth of Hellenism which later was vital in the colonial histories of Cyprus and the Ionian Islands. Apart from similarities, these three case studies have many distinct differences. One of these differences is the geo-strategic importance of each island within the British Empire. This would affect the importance to health and medical care given to each island in relation to the stronghold and the amount of garrison stationed. These differences would lead the colonial authorities to attach according importance to civil health care. Other questions and differences such as ethnicity and religion will help generating important hypothesis and inferences on each island. Through the study of various charitable institutions, naval and military hospitals, public health, hospital provisions, quarantine measures, isolation of lepers and prostitutes and the study of the climate and the constitution, I aim to understand the relationship between medicine, the colonial civilizing mission and the transmission of information and ideologies between the metropolis and periphery.

Supervisor: Prof. Hilary Marland

Department: History (Centre for History of Medicine)


STEPS (Malta)

CHM Strategic Award Travel Fund

Postgraduate Research Fund

Royal Historical Society Research Abroad Funding

Callum MacDonald Memorial Bursary


Coventry Canal Footbridge

Josette dot Duncan at warwick dot ac dot uk