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'Birth, life, and death of infectious diseases': Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and the invention of medical ecology in France.
Hist Philos Life Sci 2019; 41(1):2HP

Abstract

In teasing out the diverse origins of our "modern, ecological understanding of epidemic disease" (Mendelsohn, in: Lawrence and Weisz (eds) Greater than the parts: holism in biomedicine, 1920-1950, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998), historians have downplayed the importance of parasitology in the development of a natural history perspective on disease. The present article reassesses the significance of parasitology for the "invention" of medical ecology in post-war France. Focussing on the works of microbiologist Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and on that of physician and zoologist Hervé Harant (1901-1986), I argue that French "medical ecology" was not professionally (or cognitively) insulated from some major trends in parasitology, especially in Tunis where disciplinary borders in the medical sciences collapsed. This argument supports the claim that ecological perspectives of disease developed in colonial context (Anderson in Osiris 19: 39-61, 2004) but I show that parasitologists such as Harant built on the works of medical geographers who had called attention to the dynamic and complex biological relations between health and environment in fashioning the field of medical ecology in the mid-1950s. As the network of scientists who contributed to the global emergence of "disease ecology" is widening, both medical geography and parasitology stand out as relevant sites of inquiries for a broader historical understanding of the multiple "ecological visions" in twentieth-century biomedical sciences.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Faculté de Philosophie, Université Laval, Pavillon Félix Antoine Savard, 2325, rue des Bibliothèques, Quebec City, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada. p.olivier.methot@gmail.com.

Pub Type(s)

Biography
Historical Article
Journal Article
Portrait

Language

eng

PubMed ID

30734112

Citation

Méthot, Pierre-Olivier. "'Birth, Life, and Death of Infectious Diseases': Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and the Invention of Medical Ecology in France." History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, vol. 41, no. 1, 2019, p. 2.
Méthot PO. 'Birth, life, and death of infectious diseases': Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and the invention of medical ecology in France. Hist Philos Life Sci. 2019;41(1):2.
Méthot, P. O. (2019). 'Birth, life, and death of infectious diseases': Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and the invention of medical ecology in France. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 41(1), p. 2. doi:10.1007/s40656-018-0238-6.
Méthot PO. 'Birth, Life, and Death of Infectious Diseases': Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and the Invention of Medical Ecology in France. Hist Philos Life Sci. 2019 Feb 7;41(1):2. PubMed PMID: 30734112.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - 'Birth, life, and death of infectious diseases': Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and the invention of medical ecology in France. A1 - Méthot,Pierre-Olivier, Y1 - 2019/02/07/ PY - 2017/08/24/received PY - 2018/12/14/accepted PY - 2019/2/9/entrez PY - 2019/2/9/pubmed PY - 2019/6/14/medline KW - Hervé Harant KW - Ludovic Blaizot KW - Max Sorre KW - Medical geography KW - Parasitology KW - Relapsing fevers SP - 2 EP - 2 JF - History and philosophy of the life sciences JO - Hist Philos Life Sci VL - 41 IS - 1 N2 - In teasing out the diverse origins of our "modern, ecological understanding of epidemic disease" (Mendelsohn, in: Lawrence and Weisz (eds) Greater than the parts: holism in biomedicine, 1920-1950, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998), historians have downplayed the importance of parasitology in the development of a natural history perspective on disease. The present article reassesses the significance of parasitology for the "invention" of medical ecology in post-war France. Focussing on the works of microbiologist Charles Nicolle (1866-1936) and on that of physician and zoologist Hervé Harant (1901-1986), I argue that French "medical ecology" was not professionally (or cognitively) insulated from some major trends in parasitology, especially in Tunis where disciplinary borders in the medical sciences collapsed. This argument supports the claim that ecological perspectives of disease developed in colonial context (Anderson in Osiris 19: 39-61, 2004) but I show that parasitologists such as Harant built on the works of medical geographers who had called attention to the dynamic and complex biological relations between health and environment in fashioning the field of medical ecology in the mid-1950s. As the network of scientists who contributed to the global emergence of "disease ecology" is widening, both medical geography and parasitology stand out as relevant sites of inquiries for a broader historical understanding of the multiple "ecological visions" in twentieth-century biomedical sciences. SN - 0391-9714 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/30734112/'Birth,_life,_and_death_of_infectious_diseases':_Charles_Nicolle_(1866-1936)_and_the_invention_of_medical_ecology_in_France L2 - https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40656-018-0238-6 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -