Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

HISTORY 4FF3 Health & Medicine (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Spring

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Juanita DeBarros


Office: Chester New Hall 602

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24149


Office Hours: TBA

Course Objectives:

Course Description:

Focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this course explores the history of health and medicine in the colonial world, including the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa.  We will examine the role of health and medicine in maintaining imperial control, the actions of indigenous health care workers, the significance of race and gender in shaping colonial health care systems (in the cities and in rural areas), and the emergence of international health organizations in the 20th century.

Course Organization:

In the first section of the course, we will discuss book chapters and scholarly articles that address the main themes of the course. Each week, we will also examine primary sources. We also Students are expected to have done the readings and to be prepared to participate in the discussion. Each class, several students will lead the discussion, but everyone is expected to participate. In the final section of the course, students will give brief presentations of their research papers (no longer than 10 minutes in length). These presentations should include a brief discussion about the nature of the research, the initial hypothesis and argument being advanced, and kinds of sources used.  The other students in the class are responsible for offering constructive suggestions to the presenters.  Each student will also exchange a draft of his/her essay with another student and provide suggestions for improvement.  The final papers are due on the last day of classes.

Course Objectives:

In this course, students will have the opportunity to improve their research skills and to develop their essay writing and verbal communication skills.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Readings:

Espinosa, Mariola. Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits of Cuban Independence, 1878-1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. (available in Titles)

Most of the readings are from journals; most of these are on-line but some are in the library. This material is not on reserve in the library.  Some primary source readings are available on Avenue to Learn (A to L).  The readings that are included in the course pack have been marked with an *.  The course pack is available for purchase in Titles.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you acquire the materials well in advance of the class.

Method of Assessment:


Class Participation                                          20%

Seminar Facilitation                                        5%

Paper Response                                             5%

Paper Presentation                                         5%

Research Essay Proposal                              25%    

Research Essay                                             40%


Course Assignments:

Research Essay Proposal (25%)

Due: February 11

This assignment is in several parts.  You must submit the following:

  1. A statement of the research question that you intend to answer in your major research essay.
  2. A 1-2 page (double-spaced) discussion of the argument you intend to advance and the manner in which you intend to prove it.  What points will you address?  How will you approach the subject?  A point-form discussion will not be accepted; you must write in complete sentences.   
  3. A 3-4 page historiographical discussion of 5 scholarly sources (monographs or scholarly articles) that address the topic of your research essay.  Please note that these 5 sources cannot include course readings.  What have historians said about this subject?  What is your contribution to the scholarship?  The secondary sources must have been published after 1980.
  4. A 2-page discussion about 2 significant primary sources that you will use in the essay.  Each source should be at least 15-20 pages in length.  In this section of the assignment, you must answer the following questions:

i. What is the nature of the source? Memoirs?  Government reports?  Travel accounts?

ii. Who wrote it?  When and why?

iii. What does the source say?  Provide specific details. 

iv. How will this source help you in your research?  Be specific!

Note: A point-form discussion will not be accepted; you must write in complete sentences.

  1. A preliminary bibliography divided into secondary and primary sources, using Chicago reference style.
  2. Footnotes, using Chicago reference style.

Note: You must provide references for all quotations, paraphrases, and other borrowed material.


Research Essay (40%)

The draft of your essay is due to the respondent 10 days before presentations.

All final versions due April 8.

Length: 4,000-5,500 words.  The course will use Turnitin plagiarism software for essay submissions.

Important notes about the research essay:

  1. You must use a minimum of 6 scholarly, secondary sources published after 1980.  These can (and probably will) include the secondary sources you addressed in the bibliography assignment.  The 6 sources cannot include course readings.  
  2. The essay must include a discussion of the relevant scholarship.
  3. The essay must include a statement of the research question.
  4. All written work will be marked on grammar, clarity of writing, and organization, as well as content and analysis. Written work must follow scholarly writing conventions and must be properly referenced in accordance with standard humanities guides. You must use footnotes. Details can be found in the most recent version of Kate Turbian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. A condensed version of is available through the McMaster University Library home page. Assignments must typed or word-processed.

Paper Response (5%)

Each student is responsible for critiquing a fellow student’s draft research essay.  The critique should contain helpful suggestions as well as questions about the research project.  You should address the following: argument; logic; use of sources (secondary and primary); references; writing/grammar.  Please submit one copy of the critique to me and a second copy to the student whose work you’re addressing.  These are due 10 days before the presentations.  Late paper responses will be penalized by 10% a day (including weekends).  Please note that individual students are still responsible for their own work.


  1. Class Participation: 20% of your mark is based on regular, thoughtful contribution to the class discussion.  I will assess your contribution based on the following: did you contribute to the class discussion? Did you demonstrate that you had done the readings and prepared for class? Did you effectively communicate your ideas to the others in the class? Did you listen to the others in class and respond to their comments?  Note:  Your participation mark includes one mandatory meeting with me to discuss the research paper. Students who not attend a meeting will have their participation mark reduced by 10%.
  2. Seminar Facilitation: 5%. Students are responsible for leading one class discussion, either alone or with another student.  The facilitators will briefly introduce the readings assigned for that week and develop at least 5 relevant questions designed to prompt discussion.  The facilitator(s) will also locate and discuss 1 additional relevant reading (published after 1980) that addresses the week’s topic.  I will mark each student presenter individually.  Dates will be assigned in the first class.  Two days before the class, the facilitators must send me a powerpoint listing their questions.
  3. Paper Presentation: 5% Each student will briefly discuss his/her research essay in a 10 minute oral presentation that includes powerpoint.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Submission and Late Policies:

Include your name and student number, the course name/number, and my name on the title page of your assignments.  Submit the assignment at the start of class on the day it is due. Do not leave any written work under my office door and do not submit written work by email or fax as it will not be accepted. If you submit your assignments in the History department drop box, you do so at your own risk. You should keep a photocopy of all your written work;  you must also keep your research notes and rough drafts for your essays as you may be required to hand them in.  Failure to do so may result in a zero for the assignment. 

Assignments not submitted in the class on the day they are due will be considered late and penalized at 5% a day, including weekends.  As noted above, late paper responses will be lose 10% a day, including weekends.

Requests for Extensions to Deadlines:

Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation.  Absences of less than 5 days may be reported using the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) at If you are unable to use the MSAF, you should document the absence with your faculty office.  In all cases, it is YOUR responsibility to follow up with the instructor immediately to see if an extension or other accommodation will be granted, and what form it will take. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations. Please note that the MSAF form will not be accepted after the assignment deadline. 

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


January 7    Introduction to the Course

Choose seminar facilitation dates.


January 14    Researching Empire and Medicine in the Colonial World

Espinosa, Mariola. Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits of Cuban Independence, 1878-1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Chapters 1-3.

Marks, S. “What is Colonial about Colonial Medicine?” Social History of Medicine 10 (1997): 205-20.

“Tropical Diseases and the Construction of the Panama Canal”

Follow one of the links to a primary source and be prepared to discuss it in class.

“Who Died of Consumption? Race and Disease in the United States.” AHA Today. A Blog of the American Historical Association.

What research techniques did these students use? How can we use them in this course?


January 21    Medicine and Imperialism

Espinosa, Mariola. Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits of Cuban Independence, 1878-1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Chapters 4-7.

Hart, Ernest. “The West Indies as a Health Resort.” The British Medical Journal 2, no.

1920 (October 16, 1897): 1097-1099.*


January 28    Institutionalizing “Tropical” Medicine

Power, Helen. “The Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine: Institutionalizing Medical Research in the Periphery.” Medical History 40, no. 197–214 (1996): 968-987.

Johnson, Ryan. “The West African Medical Staff and the Administration of Imperial Tropical Medicine, 1902–14.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 38, no. 3 (September 2010): 419–39.

Chernin, Eli. “The Early British and American Journals of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene: An Informal Survey.” Medical History 36, no. 1 (1982): 70-83.

“Courses in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for Candidates for Appointment to the Colonial Medical Service,” CO 885/32/3, National Archives. (on A to L)

“The London School of Tropical Medicine” and “The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.” The British Medical Journal 1, no. 2208 (April 25, 1903) (on A to L)


February 4   Diseases in the Colonial World

Arnold, David. “‘An Ancient Race Outworn’: Malaria and Race in Colonial India, 1860

-1930.” In Race, Science, and Medicine, 1900-1960, edited by Waltraud Ernst and Bernard Harris, 123-143. London: Routledge, 1999.

Anderson, Warwick. “Immunities of Empire: Race, Disease and the New Tropical Medicine, 1900–1920.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 70 (1996): 94–118.

Sutphen, Mary P. “Not What but Where: Bubonic Plague and the Reception of Germ

Theories in Hong Kong and Calcutta, 1894-1897.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 52, no. 1 (January 1997): 81-113.

Trujillo-Pagan, N. E. “Worms as a Hook for Colonising Puerto Rico.” Social History of Medicine 26, no. 4 (November 1, 2013): 611–32.

Prout, W. T. “Malaria in Jamaica,” in The Prevention of Malaria. Edited by Ronald

Ross, 376-381. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, 1910.*


February 11    The Politics of Sanitation

De Barros, Juanita De Barros. “Sanitation and Civilization in Georgetown, British Guiana.” Caribbean Quarterly 49, no. (2003): 65-86.

McFarlane, Colin. “Governing the Contaminated City: Infrastructure and Sanitation in Colonial and Post-colonial Bombay.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32, no. 2 (June 2008): 415-34.

Parnell, Susan. “Creating Racial Privilege: The Origins of South African Public Health and Town Planning Legislation.” Journal of Southern African Studies 19, no. 3 Sept (1993): 471–88.

Swanson, Maynard W. “The Sanitation Syndrome: Bubonic Plague and the Urban Native Policy in the Cape Colony, 1900 - 1909.” Journal of African History 28, no. 3 (1977): 387–410.

Bigon, Liora. “Sanitation and Street Layout in Early Colonial Lagos: British and Indigenous Conceptions, 1851-1900.” Planning Perspectives 20, no. July (2005): 247–69.

“Sanitary Work in the City,” The Gleaner, August 6, 1926, 3. (on A to L)


February 18 – No Class - Reading Week

February 25   Health Workers in the Colonies

Shapiro, Karin A. “Doctors or Medical Aids—the Debate over the Training of Black Medical Personnel for the Rural Black Population in South Africa in the 1920s and 1930s.” Journal of Southern African Studies 13, no. 2 (1987): 234–255.

De Barros, Juanita. “‘Spreading Sanitary Enlightenment’: Race, Identity, and the Emergence of a Creole Medical Profession in British Guiana.” Journal of British Studies 42 (2003): 483–504.

Johnson, Ryan. “The West African Medical Staff and the Administration of Imperial

Tropical Medicine, 1902-14.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 38, no. 3 (September 2010): 419-439.

Lang, Seán. “Saving Indian Through Its Women.” History Today 55, no. 9 (September 2005).


March 4          Gender and Medicine

Bashford, Alison. “Medicine, Gender, and Empire” In Gender and Empire. Edited by Philippa Levine, 112-133. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2004.*

Rafferty, Anne Marie and Diana Solano. “The Rise and Demise of the Colonial Nursing

Service: British Nurses in the Colonies, 1896-1966.” Nursing History Review 15 (2007): 147-154.

Lang, Sean. “Drop the Demon Dai: Maternal Mortality and the State in Colonial Madras,

1840-1875.” Social History of Medicine 18, no. 3 (2005): 357-378.

De Barros, Juanita. “Grannies, Midwives, and Colonial Encounters.” Reproducing the British Caribbean: Sex, Gender, and Population Politics after Slavery, 67-93. Chapel Hill: UNC, 2014. *

Balfour, Andrew. “The Tropical Field for Medical Women: Its Possibilities for Medical

Women.” Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 31, no. 21 (November 1,

1928): 1-21. (on A to L)

Victoria Jubilee Lying-in Hospital Report, “Report on the Victoria Jubilee Lying-in Hospital for the year ending 31st March 1902.” (on A to L)


March 11    Global Health

Wilkinson, Lise. “Burgeoning Visions of Global Public Health: The Rockefeller

Foundation, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the ‘Hookworm Connection.’” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Biological and Biomedical Sciences 31, no. 3 (2000): 397-407. *

Palmer, Steven. "Migrant Clinics and Hookworm Science: Peripheral Origins of International Health, 1840-1920." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 83, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 676-709.

Stepan, N. L. “The National and the International in Public Health: Carlos Chagas and the Rockefeller Foundation in Brazil, 1917 - 1930s.” Hispanic American Historical Review 91, no. 3 (January 1, 2011): 469–502.

Bashford, Alison. “Global Biopolitics and the History of World Health.” History of Human Sciences 19, no. 1 (2006): 67-88.


March 18        Research Class – Work on Projects

March 25         Research Class – Work on Projects

April 1             Presentations

April 8            Presentations           

Essays due