Article published in:Shaping Public Opinion from the Sahara to the Caucasus (16th to 21st Centuries)
[Archív Orientální 80:2] 2012
► pp. 294–305
Experts at large
Physicians, Public Debate and the Press in Late Ottoman Palestine
The purpose of this presentation is to compare the authority assumed by physicians in the public space with the one which they commanded in their relations with their patients as well as in their relations with administrative bodies. In this context, it is relevant to focus on Palestine since a political debate has already structured the public space along clear fault lines prior to World War One. At that time, the central public debate moved away from the issue of reform which allowed physicians to speak in the name of public interest towards one focused on a conﬂict about nationality. On the part of physicians, is the assumption of non-partisan authority undermined by this context? How does such authority translate itself in public expression? Is the role assumed by physicians in the public space congruent with their real work as physicians or “experts”? The kind of authority that transpires through the writing of physicians in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East mostly comes out as a projection of their professional practice, not unlike a medical prescription. Those physicians, however, tended to separate the realm of medicine as an element of public debate and their opinions about the political conﬂict: in this manner, they underline the connection between health and Jewish colonization in Palestine.
Keywords: physicians, medical authority, health and public debate, physicians as experts in society, Palestine, Jewish colonization in Palestine