James G. Hanley
Series: Rochester Studies in Medical History
Hardcover: 359 pages
Publisher: University of Rochester Press (June 1, 2016)
This book argues that the legacies of nineteenth-century public health in England and Wales were not just better health and cleaner cities, but also new ideas of property and people. Between 1815 and 1872, public health activiststriggered multiple redefinitions of both, shifting the boundaries between public and private nuisances, between public and private services, between taxable and nontaxable property, between cities and suburbs, between the state and the individual, and between different kinds of individuals. These boundary-making processes were themselves inflected by different material, political, and ideological developments: disease, demography, democracy, and domesticity, in particular, shaped the legal limits of public health. These boundary shifts manifested themselves in the creation of new nuisance laws and in the minute control by the state of private domestic arrangements. Most important, they promoted a radical shift in the financial responsibility for the health of others, stimulating in the process highly controversial ideas of community. Public health thus served as an important, if contradictory, sitein the creation of communities, enhancing the right to health for some while simultaneously restricting the privacy rights of others in the name of health. Relying on under-used legal sources, this book presents a fresh view of the local origins and legal and political significance of the public health movement.