Patrick Carroll

in Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247536
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932807 | DOI:

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This chapter explores the links between “public health” and “medical police,” demonstrating the inaccuracy of the widely held belief that public health displaced medical police in the nineteenth century. It explains that the essentialist association of medical police with the Continent (particularly Germany) and the idea that it constituted an “opposite model” to that of English public health are not supported by the historical record. Beginning with Petty's “political medicine,” it demonstrates how medical police became one of the most powerful engines of government for scoping out people and integrating them into engineered social spaces. It argues that the state develops as an administration of life, with government constantly seeking to arrest disease and extend longevity. It clarifies that medical police is, therefore, a positive power, productive to health, safety, and population security.

Keywords: public health; medical police; nineteenth century; Germany; William Petty; longevity; population security

Chapter.  12993 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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