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Embodying 'the new white race': colonial doctors and settler society in Algeria, 1878-1911

Citation: Chopin, Charlotte Ann (2015) Embodying 'the new white race': colonial doctors and settler society in Algeria, 1878-1911. Social History of Medicine, 29 (1). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0951-631X


Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

This article examines the cultural identifications of doctors of French origin working for the colonial medical service in Algeria at the end of the nineteenth century. As representatives of the state, doctors were expected to uphold the gendered values of civilisation which underpinned the French Third Republic and its empire. Yet they also formed part of a mixed European settler community which insisted upon its own racial and cultural specificity. Faced with a series of centralising reforms to the service from 1878, doctors tied their pursuit of professional freedom to a wider settler movement for autonomy. In so doing, they came to embody a self-proclaimed ‘new white race’ which sought to physically regenerate the empire. In tracing these doctors' mediation between their governmental employers and their settler patients, this article exposes tensions within French medical culture in Algeria and reflects on the consequences for the operation of colonial power.

Creators: Chopin, Charlotte Ann ( and
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Subjects: History
Keywords: Algeria, settlement, colonial doctors, colonisation, gender, settler colonialism
Divisions: University of London Institute in Paris
  • 17 May 2015 (accepted)
  • 25 August 2015 (published)


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