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Disease, War, and the Imperial StateThe Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years' War$
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Erica Charters

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226180007

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226180144.001.0001

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(p.191) Epilogue
Disease, War, and the Imperial State

Erica Charters

University of Chicago Press

This chapter points to the transformative effects of the Seven Years War on Britain’s public sphere, on medicine’s role in public life, and on an emerging European identity. Since disease outbreaks represented a massive challenge to British manpower and to Britons’ physical health, especially in colonial environments, the war called the attention of military physicians and imperial administrators to observed differences between the bodies of British soldiers and those of colonial creoles and natives. The war’s many theaters served, in effect, as testing grounds for medical theories about the nature of human bodies and their adaptability to foreign environments. Thus, orthodoxies regarding fluid, mutable bodies gave way to more modern notions of fixed, biological racial differences. These emerging medical theories are tied to broader developments in European culture that articulated a new and self-conscious European identity. The chapter also summarizes how the experience of the Seven Years War buttressed professional and moral authority among medical practitioners, as experts who provided the political and administrative class with practical information on the prudent administering of national manpower and resources.

Keywords:   race, prison reform, modern body, expertise, colonial medicine, military medicine, manpower

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