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Cholera, Health for All, Nation-Building, and Racial Degeneration in Nineteenth-Century Romania

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The emergence of social modernity in the Romanian principalities can be traced to the founding of quarantinist outposts against the last waves of plague and the first waves of cholera. The crisis of this sanitary arrangement opened the way for a series of failed but productive projects of modernization. The collective political body was imagined and created through the nationalization of the medical profession and the attempts to create a sanitary social body. The failure to connect urban and rural bodies inside a democratic all-embracing network opened up spaces for discourses questioning the identity of the collective body. Was there a “Romanian element”? What did that mean and was it degenerating? Demographic anti-Semitism and the first attempts to think of socioeconomic and sanitary failures in terms of racial degeneracy emerged from the fissures of the national sanitary system. Bacteriology was able to partially absorb these critiques and propose a larger interventionist project in the space opened by the old-style sanitary police.

Affiliations: 1: CEU IAS/ University of Bucharest, calin.cotoi@sas.unibuc.ro

10.1163/18763308-04302005
/content/journals/10.1163/18763308-04302005
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2016-09-16
2018-06-22

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