Anglo-American missionary medicine in Gaza, 1882-1981

Barnett, Carlton Carter, III
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For a century, scholars of Palestine have wrestled with the repercussions of missionary efforts in the region. Most scholarship focuses on nineteenth-century educational and ecclesiastical endeavors, as innovations in technology proved mutually transformative. These accounts define the relationship between missionaries, colonialism, and the emergence of the modern state. Less attention, however, has been paid to the impact of medical missions. These institutions interacted with every segment of society while concurrently engaging with practices of religion, law, and medicine. In Palestine, they provoked an ambivalent response amongst the populace who benefited from their medical services but generally disdained their proselytizing practices that tore at the social fabric. Palestinians felt compelled to react to the practices of mission hospitals. The minute records of mission hospitals, paired with Palestinian reactions to their polarizing practices, allow scholars to trace subtle transformations in the making of modern Palestine. This thesis examines the history of a mission hospital in Gaza, operated by Anglo-American missionaries for nearly a century, and analyzes developments in Gazan society, medicine, and law by gauging responses to missionary medicine. Drawing heavily on original archival material from the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and Foreign Mission Board (FMB), I interact with a century-long historical record (1882-1981). Rather than focus on the defining political moments in Palestinian history, this thesis takes interest in the quotidian experiences that contextualize the region. These experiences provide new perspective and complement the existing historiography of Palestine. In addition to this historiography, this thesis interacts with scholarship on missions, modern medicine, and colonialism in the Middle East. I expand on previous scholarship in terms of period and institutional focus. Much attention has been paid to the history of missions during the nineteenth century, but few scholars trace how missions developed into the twentieth century. Studying missions in this century overturns prior conceptions of missionary history while speaking to further developments in the modern Middle East. Second, this thesis brings attention to missionary medicine, which is often subsumed under colonialism. By defining missionary medicine and differentiating it from the colonial project, this thesis strives to better understand its impact on Gaza.