« UN CHOC DE CIRCULATIONS » LA MARINE FRANÇAISE FACE AU CHOLÉRA EN MÉDITERRANÉE (1831-1856) MÉDECINE NAVALE, GÉOSTRATÉGIE ET IMPÉRIALISME SANITAIRE

Abstract : Cholera: “a crucial and revealing challenge, helpful to measure the bravery and intellectual value of the Navy’s physicians”. According to Jacques Leonard’s word, cholera defied the French Navy as a whole. It questioned the French naval instrument and actions beyond the mere issues of sea hygiene or the spreading of the epidemic through sailing. It was both a field issue, as well at a local level as at the individual and collective ones, and a meaningful issue in international relations. It required a constant and deep commitment from the military health service in general, and from the Navy health service in particular. It contributed to weakening the Mediterranean area in a period of reconstruction as post-1815 France intended to seize opportunities to become again a prominent member in the community of Nations through a stronger commitment in the crises that were then striking its southern part. This pro-active policy, combining military intervention and conventional diplomacy, the preservation of trading interests and the renewal of an expansionist and even imperialist policy, partly relied on the appeal to restructuring naval forces. By studying the confrontation between French naval power in the Mediterranean and the spreading of cholera from 1831 to 1856, the purpose, here, will be to understand, mainly through a naval perspective, how those successive epidemics evolved from the status of threats to public health to that of becoming an unexpected opportunity to stand a sanitary power, as two international conferences on health were to take place in Paris (1851 and 1859). The history of confrontations between the French navy and cholera tells about a human scale struggle. Beyond the human and scientific challenges it represented, beyond all the individual struggles, beyond the specific mobilization that it implied, cholera always represented an impediment to the smooth functioning of the missions devoted to the French Navy in the Mediterranean. It forced the Navy to curb its medical procedures and sanitary strategies. It revealed the French efforts towards a unified sanitary space supported by a set of rules built upon quarantines. The Navy did not only help preserving France from the epidemics but also took part in the development of a sanitary expansionism tinged with imperialism (or the other way round). The incorporation of Algeria into the French sanitary space materialized the will to build up a zone of sanitary influence in the Mediterranean thanks to an active diplomacy
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Benoît Pouget. « UN CHOC DE CIRCULATIONS » LA MARINE FRANÇAISE FACE AU CHOLÉRA EN MÉDITERRANÉE (1831-1856) MÉDECINE NAVALE, GÉOSTRATÉGIE ET IMPÉRIALISME SANITAIRE . Histoire. Aix Marseille Université, 2017. Français. ⟨tel-01722659⟩

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