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By D. Armstrong

Scientific texts supply a robust technique of having access to modern perceptions of disease and during them assumptions in regards to the nature of the physique and identification. via mapping those perceptions, from their nineteenth-century specialise in disorder positioned in a organic physique via to their 'discovery' of the psycho-social sufferer of the overdue 20th century, a historical past of identification, either actual and mental, is published.

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Example text

Both of these examinations of the patient’s body served to reaffirm, on countless occasions, its three-dimensional volume as corporal space was mapped, analysed and dissected. The clinical examination and the post-mortem were the major practical procedures for identifying and managing the new pathological death. Yet, when the clinicians and pathologists, the coroners and registrars, had all had their say and the body had finally yielded its secrets, there was one final problem. How was the lifeless body to be disposed of?

At last, Man had a point of origin to add to a demarcated body, as well as the necessary rites de passage after death to transfer this object back to the world of dust and dirt. All that was missing was the account of how dust was pressed into the shape of Man, how the infant was fashioned as an independent object, as a space and form apart from nature. Reconstructing causes of death In 1839 in Britain, deaths were divided into those of internal or external cause, a distinction that roughly followed the old coroner’s separation of natural deaths from those caused by human agency.

Gulick and Ayre 1908: 50) Following the advice of the medical inspector, certain diseases were labelled as ‘excludable’, though there was considerably variation in this; some schools excluded the common cold, for example, while others did not. On identification, the contagious child was then prevented from attending school; a formal exclusion notice was sent to the parent and records completed for the school and the health authority and for the medical inspector himself. The system of exclusion that spread through schools around the end of the nineteenth century resembled the old system of quarantine in which separation had maintained order and purity.

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