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Public Health in a Federation: Lessons from the Spanish Influenza in Australia

journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2022, 00:00 authored by Carolyn HolbrookCarolyn Holbrook
Summary
Public health policy has been identified by scholars as a principal means by which the state has expanded its control over human populations. Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, public health responses do not necessarily reinforce the authority and prestige of the state, even while governments employ strict measures such as lockdowns and border closures. This article examines arguments about the nation-making effects of public health measures through an examination of the Spanish influenza outbreak in the recently federated Australian nation during 1919. It examines the effort of the central government to co-ordinate quarantine and other public health measures in the face of serious tensions within the Australian federation. In doing so, the article suggests a need to think more subtly about the role of ‘bio-political’ events such as public health crises in consolidating state control and fostering exclusionary forms of nationalism. These lessons apply particularly to federal nation-states.

History

Journal

Social History of Medicine

Volume

00

Issue

0

Pagination

1 - 29

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Location

Oxford, Eng.

ISSN

0951-631X

eISSN

1477-4666

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal