"Where Every Prospect Pleases and Only Man Is Vile": Laboratory Medicine as Colonial Discourse

Critical Inquiry 18 (3):506-529 (1992)

My concern here is with the way a new American medical discourse in the Philippines fabricated and rationalized images of the bodies of the colonized and the subordinate colonizers. I am interested in reading the reports of biological experiments as discursive constructions of the American colonial project, as attempts to naturalize the power of foreign bodies to appropriate and command the Islands. The origin of the American colonial enterprise at a time when science lent novel force and legitimacy to public policy gave scientists and doctors an opportunity to construct a new physiology and pathology of colonialism. The medical laboratory thus became an important site for the construction of the social space of interaction between American and Filipino bodies.5 The Filipino emerged in this period as a potentially dangerous part of the zoological realm, while the American colonizer became a resilient racial type, no longer inevitably susceptible to the tropical climate but vulnerable to the crowd of invisible, alien parasites newly associated with native bodies. This new medical discourse in the tropics accorded with a broad shift in the language and practices of medical science that occurred at the end of the nineteenth century. Generally, the medical concern with constitutions and climate gave way to a greater interest in the specific microbial causation of individual disease. At the same time, the colonial doctor’s anecdotes and clinical impressions seemed less convincing, and increasingly the laboratory was called on to authenticate knowledge. Warwick Anderson is a medical doctor who is completing his doctorate in the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania. His current project is the politics of disease theory in southeastern Asia
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/448643
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 42,236
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Robert Koch and the Invention of the Carrier State: Tropical Medicine, Veterinary Infections and Epidemiology Around 1900.Christoph Gradmann - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):232-240.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Vile Sovereigns in Bioethical Debate.Melinda Hall - 2013 - Disability Studies Quarterly 33 (4).
The Myth of Origin in Context Through the Lens of Deconstruction, Dialogism and Hybridity.Sung Uk Lim - 2011 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 10 (29):112-131.
The Colonial State and Statistical Knowledge.U. Kalpagam - 2000 - History of the Human Sciences 13 (2):37-55.
Appreciating Nature in View of Practical Aesthetics.Keping Wang - 2007 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 2 (1):140-149.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #334,636 of 2,254,263 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #477,229 of 2,254,263 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature