• Policing Epizootics. Legislation and Administration during Outbreaks of Cattle Plague in Eighteenth-Century Northern Germany as Continuous Crisis Management

    Dominik Hünniger (see profile)
    Medical Humanities, Science Studies and the History of Science
    Epidemics, Public health, History, Law
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    history of public health, Legal history
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    This chapter analyzes administrative efforts to control epizootic disease in eighteenth-century Schleswig-Holstein as disaster management. It points to the importance of quarantine, slaughter, and the control of trade as the principal methods adopted by governments and draws links with the methods used to control plague in humans. The chapter shows that the regulation of animal diseases was an important means through which the state asserted its authority and was part of the process of state formation in the preindustrial period.Control politics and measures could adversely affect particular social groups or individuals and the quarantine regulations attracted considerable resistance from subjects who petitioned the authorities to moderate the rules. Although the authorities considered a complete quarantine of farms and villages to be the most effective means of containing disease, they were unable to shut off whole villages for a long time. In addition, many of the regulations were subject to infringement and abuse. The repetition and extension of certain laws were evidence of this. At the same time, these extensions can also be understood as the authorities’ attempt to prove that they had the capacity to act and control the disease and can be regarded as indicative of the evolution of state building in early mod-ern Europe. Regulations for epizootics clearly show that this process was a complicated combination of bottom-up and top-down developments. The evidence further illustrates that a dreadful crisis like an outbreak of cattle plague shook the foundations of eighteenth-century society and that governments addressed this by mobilizing economic as well as social, cultural, and legal resources. Only by looking at all four aspects is one able to understand the impact of epizootics on agrarian societies.
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    4 years ago
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