“The history of veterinary medicine told from anything other than a triumphalist perspective, usually with a nationalist slant, is rare. Essays in this outstanding collection cover rural as well as urban issues in veterinary disease and science from the eighteenth century to the present. The book will attract a wide range of readers from veterinary historians to all those interested in why livestock has been and is important to society.”
Diana K. Davis, University of California
“This volume represents a compelling call to broaden the territory covered by the history of veterinary medicine and animal health and it is essential reading for those interested in these topics. More broadly, some of its essays should inform studies of colonialism in the modern period, which have too often neglected to examine agriculture, foodways, and notions of environment, health, and disease.”
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
“The essays collected in Healing the Herds are most welcome additions to the existing scholarship on the history of veterinary medicine and livestock disease. The volume should be mandatory reading for specialists in these fields. Those concerned with eighteenth- through twentieth-century colonialism, European state building, and the ecological dynamics of Old World expansion will also find much on offer here.”
“The fine collection compiled by Karen Brown and Daniel Gilfoyle proves that a comparative history of veterinary medicine can be compelling.…By taking the story out of the laboratory and focusing on the political economy of disease and control, they show its significance well beyond animals and vets.”
Journal of Historical Geography
During the early 1990s, the ability of dangerous diseases to pass between animals and humans was brought once more to the public consciousness. These concerns continue to raise questions about how livestock diseases have been managed over time and in different social, economic, and political circumstances. Healing the Herds: Disease, Livestock Economies, and the Globalization of Veterinary Medicine brings together case studies from the Americas, western Europe, and the European and Japanese colonies to illustrate how the rapid growth of the international trade in animals through the nineteenth century engendered the spread of infectious diseases, sometimes with devastating consequences for indigenous pastoral societies. At different times and across much of the globe, livestock epidemics have challenged social order and provoked state interventions, often opposed by farmers and herders. The intensification of agriculture has transformed environments, with consequences for animal and human health.
But the last two centuries have also witnessed major changes in the way societies have conceptualized diseases and sought to control them. From the late nineteenth century, advances in veterinary technologies afforded veterinary scientists a new professional status and allowed them to wield greater political influence. While older methods have remained important to strategies of control and prevention, as demonstrated during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain in 2001, the rise of germ theories and the discovery of vaccines against some infections made it possible to move beyond the blunt tools of animal culls and restrictive quarantines of the past. Healing the Herds: Disease, Livestock Economies, and the Globalization of Veterinary Medicine offers a new and exciting comparative approach to the complex interrelationships of microbes, markets, and medicine in the global economy.
Karen Brown is currently an ESRC Research Fellow at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford. She has published a number of papers that deal with environmental and veterinary history in South Africa. More info →
Daniel Gilfoyle specializes in the veterinary history of Africa and works in Research and Collections at the National Archives in London. More info →
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