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Making a New Countryside

Health Policies and Practices in European History ca. 1860-1950

Astri Andresen, Josep Lluis Barona Vilar and Steven Cherry

How and why did ‘the rural’ emerge as a medico-political problem, and how was this issue addressed in different parts of Europe? This book investigates how rural environments became associated with particularised concepts of sickness and health, and how such views changed over time. Responses, in the form of successful and failed attempts to make a ‘new’ countryside, are analysed at local, regional and national levels – to some extent also involving international dimensions – covering sanitary and social campaigns, legislation and regulation, as well as the establishment and functioning of health services. The volume demonstrates the ambiguous position of rural society in European culture and politics. ‘The rural’ represented the good, clean, and unspoilt; yet it was perceived as backwards, uncivilised, and on the margins of ‘the modern’. This volume shows how medical science and medical practitioners contributed both to the ambiguity of ‘the rural’ and to the ‘civilisation’ of country-dwellers, and additionally demonstrates the strong political and cultural positions held by rural populations in some of the countries.
Contents: Astri Andresen/Josep L. Barona/Steven Cherry: Introduction. ‘Rural health’ as a European historical issue – Paola M. Melis/Lucia Pozzi: Trachoma, health conditions and social change in Sardinia – Steven Cherry: The public health role of rural medical practitioners: Norfolk and Fife c. 1860-1914 – Josep L. Barona: Sanitary reforms and rural health policies in Republican Spain – Esteban Rodríguez-Ocaña: The Rural Health Bureau: an unsuccessful attempt at public health surveillance in 1910s Spain – Maria Eugenia Galiana/Ángela Cremades/Josep Bernabeu-Mestre: Sanitary campaigns against trachoma in rural Spain – María José Báguena/María Isabel Porras/Rosa Ballester: Poliomyelitis in rural and urban Spain: epidemiological trends, social and scientific responses – Ximo Guillem-Llobat: Food safety, the rural/urban dichotomy and Valencian society 1850-1930 – Catherine Rollet: Town and country: the stakes of infant and child health policy in France 1860-1940 – Astri Andresen/Teemu Ryymin: Serving the countryside in times of crisis: Norway 1912-1940 – Tore Grønlie: General hospital services for rural and peripheral areas of Norway 1920-1950.