History of Medicine work-in-progress (May 16): “Blind in Palestine: Stories of Treating Trachoma”

UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum is a series which provides opportunities for faculty, students, staff, and visiting researchers to present recent work or unfinished work-in-progress in an informal, presentation-and-discussion format. Programs are held at lunchtime (sandwiches provided to those who make reservations), one or more Fridays per quarter during the academic year, in the Rare Book Room on the 4th floor of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

The next program, on Friday, May 16, at 12:00 noon, will be a presentation by Anat Mooreville (PhD candidate in History, UCLA Department of History) on “Blind in Palestine: Stories of Treating Trachoma”:

Abstract:  Trachoma was a major public health threat in Palestine during the first half of the twentieth century, with upwards of thirty percent of Jews and seventy percent of Arabs afflicted at the start of the British Mandate. Trachoma was doubly marked: first, as a disease of poor hygiene and primitive culture owing to its particular etiology; and second, as a “blinding scourge of the East,” as a result of regional endemicity. The American-sponsored Hadassah Medical Organization conducted an intensive “war against trachoma” starting in 1918 by employing one or two “traveling oculists” to conduct periodic trachoma checks in school children throughout the Yishuv.  I comb the reports of the “traveling oculist” to elucidate how the campaign operated and was refashioned over a twenty-year period, and how the anti-trachoma campaign served to create a visual and medical distinction between Jews and the Orient in a time of nationalist development. However, fierce physician competition meant that not all eye doctors could find work in the Jewish sector. I analyze multiple first-person narratives of ophthalmologists’ experiences in private practice—an arena often missing in the archives—that document how physicians sought out or fell into establishing practices for Arab patients. Looking at both experiences reveals how trachoma was a platform for multiple models of interactions with the East, and how eye doctors also functioned as ethnographers, hygienists, and pioneers.

Box lunches (or buffet of various salads) are provided to attendees who reserve a seat by noon on the previous Monday (in this case, May 12th); coffee and water will be available; attendees should bring their own other beverages.  Reservations received after that time will not have lunch orders (please be advised that we require reservations because we must submit a list of confirmed attendees when placing our food order).

Seating is limited and is not guaranteed without a reservation. Reservations may be made by contacting History and Special Collections for the Sciences (voice: 310.825.6940; email: speccoll-medsci@library.ucla.edu).  We can accommodate up to 40 attendees.

We are looking forward to seeing some familiar as well as new faces at this and upcoming programs, and welcome feedback and recommendations.

The UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum (this is the 18th meeting) is made possible by the Program in Social Studies in Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and by History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Library Special Collections.

Upcoming programs:

2 June 2014  (special Monday event, 4:00pm)
Gil Eyal, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Looping Genomes: Diagnostic Expansion and the Genetic Makeup of the Autism Population
[this meeting is additionally co-sponsored by the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Program in the UCLA Department of History]

6 June 2014  (Friday, 12:30pm)
Rob Schraff, PhD candidate in History
Making LSD a Psychotomimetic in Los Angeles, 1950s-1960s

submitted by:

Russell Johnson
Curator/Librarian
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

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