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Healing the Land and the Nation

Malaria and the Zionist Project in Palestine, 1920-1947

A novel inquiry into the sociopolitical dimensions of public medicine, Healing the Land and the Nation traces the relationships between disease, hygiene, politics, geography, and nationalism in British Mandatory Palestine between the world wars. Taking up the case of malaria control in Jewish-held lands, Sandra Sufian illustrates how efforts to thwart the disease were intimately tied to the project of Zionist nation-building, especially the movement’s efforts to repurpose and improve its lands. The project of eradicating malaria also took on a metaphorical dimension—erasing anti-Semitic stereotypes of the “parasitic” Diaspora Jew and creating strong, healthy Jews in Palestine. Sufian shows that, in reclaiming the land and the health of its people in Palestine, Zionists expressed key ideological and political elements of their nation-building project.

Taking its title from a Jewish public health mantra, Healing the Land and the Nation situates antimalarial medicine and politics within larger colonial histories. By analyzing the science alongside the politics of Jewish settlement, Sufian addresses contested questions of social organization and the effects of land reclamation upon the indigenous Palestinian population in a decidedly innovative way. The book will be of great interest to scholars of the Middle East, Jewish studies, and environmental history, as well as to those studying colonialism, nationalism, and public health and medicine.

384 pages | 34 halftones, 7 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2007

History: Middle Eastern History

History of Science

Jewish Studies



"A fascinating book that clearly demonstates the complex and important connections between disease, health, politics, and national mythology."

Nancy Gallagher | H-Net Review

"Healing the Land is an academic exploration of a hitherto underresearched topic of historical and geographical significance and therefore makes an important contribution to the scholarship. . . . [It] is a pleasure to read . . . both because it is beautifully writen and because it establishes its relevance to modern-day Israel. . . . Healing the Land will be of great interest to students and scholars of medical history, colonial history, and historical geograpjhy."

Geremy Forman | International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

"Sufian is less concerned with malaria as a public health challenge that interacts with and participates in shaping a cultural, social and economic context than with the way Zionist images of Palestine and its Jewish and Arab inhabitants impacted anti-malaria policies and their implementation during the Mandate period...In her exceptionally well-documented study Sufian shows how the Zionist movement used malaria eradication efforts to build a national mythology of the Jewish homeland."

Thomes P. Weber | The British Journal for the History of Science

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables        
List of Measures and Currency
List of Abbreviations 
INTRODUCTION A History of Malaria and Zionist Nationalism in Mandatory Palestine
CHAPTER 1. Archetypal Landscape: Healing the Land and the Nation in the Zionist Imagination

I. Draining the Swamp to Heal the Land

CHAPTER 2. Pathological Landscape: Epidemiology and Medical Geography of Malaria in Palestine 
CHAPTER 3. Potential Landscape: Swamp Drainage Projects and the Politics of Settlement 
CHAPTER 4. Technological Landscape: The Jezreel Valley and the Huleh Valley Projects 
CHAPTER 5. Perceptual Landscape: Scientific Experimentation, Colonial Medicine and the Medicalization of Palestine

II.  Fighting Malaria to Heal the Jewish Nation
CHAPTER 6. Cultural Landscape: Creating a Culture of Health through Antimalaria Education 
CHAPTER 7. Contested Landscape: Arab-Jewish Conflict and Cooperation in Antimalaria Projects 
CONCLUSION Ecological Landscape: Old Paradigms, New Meanings 


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