Imperialism, colonial identity, and race in Algeria, 1830-1870. The role of the French Medical Corps.

P. M. Lorcin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


During the military administration of Algeria, which lasted for forty years, the foundation of the French colony was laid. Indispensable to the military in Algeria was its sizable medical corps. While the ostensible reason for its presence was to maintain the soldiers' health and thus the army's efficiency, it role extended beyond this primary objective. Starting from the intellectual and political influences that shaped the training in France of the members of the medical corps, this essay examines the ways in which they contributed to the creation of a French colonial space in Algeria. It traces how their involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and political life of the colony enabled them both to further their own ambitions and to influence wider developments. It explores how colonial physicians and surgeons, deemed to be among the most efficient agents of the civilizing mission owing to their humane contacts with the indigenous population, in fact contributed to that population's categorization and marginalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-679
Number of pages28
JournalIsis; an international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


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