Is alcohol a tropical medicine? Scientific understandings of climate, stimulants and bodies in Victorian and Edwardian tropical travel. / Armston-Sheret, Edward; Walker, Kim.

In: British Journal for the History of Science, 24.09.2021, p. 1-20.

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Is alcohol a tropical medicine? Scientific understandings of climate, stimulants and bodies in Victorian and Edwardian tropical travel. / Armston-Sheret, Edward; Walker, Kim.

In: British Journal for the History of Science, 24.09.2021, p. 1-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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@article{f2c442a4ba6a4145ae30570ca5aeaf67,
title = "Is alcohol a tropical medicine? Scientific understandings of climate, stimulants and bodies in Victorian and Edwardian tropical travel",
abstract = "This paper offers a new perspective on historical understandings of the relationship between alcohol, climate and the body, by studying the way that British explorers of tropical Africa drank alcohol and wrote about drink between c.1850 and c.1910. We demonstrate that alcohol was simultaneously classified as a medicinal, a preventative and a pleasurable drink, shaped by competing medical theories, but that distinctions between these different roles were highly blurred. We also show how many explorers thought certain drinks helped to protect white bodies from the effects of tropical diseases. While popular amongst travellers, these views came under growing scrutiny in the latter part of the nineteenth century, reflecting both changing scientific views about the relationship between alcohol, climate and the body and the development of a much larger European presence in tropical Africa. However, even those who opposed tropical drinking often supported the use of other stimulants and viewed the tropics as uniquely dangerous. As such, the paper challenges the idea that the late nineteenth century marked a paradigm shift in scientific attitudes towards tropical environments, as much previous scholarship has suggested. At the same time, our examinations of explorers{\textquoteright} descriptions of drinking by African people demonstrates how ideas about racial difference played an important role within medical understandings of alcohol. Overall, this paper examines the heterogeny of attitudes to alcohol to be found within tropical medicine and documents the continuities in approach shown between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.",
author = "Edward Armston-Sheret and Kim Walker",
year = "2021",
month = sep,
day = "24",
doi = "10.1017/S0007087421000649",
language = "English",
pages = "1--20",
journal = "British Journal for the History of Science",
issn = "0007-0874",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Is alcohol a tropical medicine? Scientific understandings of climate, stimulants and bodies in Victorian and Edwardian tropical travel

AU - Armston-Sheret, Edward

AU - Walker, Kim

PY - 2021/9/24

Y1 - 2021/9/24

N2 - This paper offers a new perspective on historical understandings of the relationship between alcohol, climate and the body, by studying the way that British explorers of tropical Africa drank alcohol and wrote about drink between c.1850 and c.1910. We demonstrate that alcohol was simultaneously classified as a medicinal, a preventative and a pleasurable drink, shaped by competing medical theories, but that distinctions between these different roles were highly blurred. We also show how many explorers thought certain drinks helped to protect white bodies from the effects of tropical diseases. While popular amongst travellers, these views came under growing scrutiny in the latter part of the nineteenth century, reflecting both changing scientific views about the relationship between alcohol, climate and the body and the development of a much larger European presence in tropical Africa. However, even those who opposed tropical drinking often supported the use of other stimulants and viewed the tropics as uniquely dangerous. As such, the paper challenges the idea that the late nineteenth century marked a paradigm shift in scientific attitudes towards tropical environments, as much previous scholarship has suggested. At the same time, our examinations of explorers’ descriptions of drinking by African people demonstrates how ideas about racial difference played an important role within medical understandings of alcohol. Overall, this paper examines the heterogeny of attitudes to alcohol to be found within tropical medicine and documents the continuities in approach shown between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

AB - This paper offers a new perspective on historical understandings of the relationship between alcohol, climate and the body, by studying the way that British explorers of tropical Africa drank alcohol and wrote about drink between c.1850 and c.1910. We demonstrate that alcohol was simultaneously classified as a medicinal, a preventative and a pleasurable drink, shaped by competing medical theories, but that distinctions between these different roles were highly blurred. We also show how many explorers thought certain drinks helped to protect white bodies from the effects of tropical diseases. While popular amongst travellers, these views came under growing scrutiny in the latter part of the nineteenth century, reflecting both changing scientific views about the relationship between alcohol, climate and the body and the development of a much larger European presence in tropical Africa. However, even those who opposed tropical drinking often supported the use of other stimulants and viewed the tropics as uniquely dangerous. As such, the paper challenges the idea that the late nineteenth century marked a paradigm shift in scientific attitudes towards tropical environments, as much previous scholarship has suggested. At the same time, our examinations of explorers’ descriptions of drinking by African people demonstrates how ideas about racial difference played an important role within medical understandings of alcohol. Overall, this paper examines the heterogeny of attitudes to alcohol to be found within tropical medicine and documents the continuities in approach shown between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

U2 - 10.1017/S0007087421000649

DO - 10.1017/S0007087421000649

M3 - Article

SP - 1

EP - 20

JO - British Journal for the History of Science

JF - British Journal for the History of Science

SN - 0007-0874

ER -