Immigration and Body Politic: Vaccination Policy and Practices during Mass Immigration to Israel (1948–1956)

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Though vaccinations are usually considered a paradigm of bio-medical success, their use has frequently provoked fierce criticism and unparalleled opposition.1 This article focuses on the social history of vaccination policy and practices during the period of mass immigration to Israel. Between 1948 and 1956, the newly established country, with a population of only about 700,000, faced the formidable task of absorbing over one million new immigrants. Following a short overview of health and immigration policies during the first years of the newly established Israeli State, this chapter will focus on vaccination as a case study to demonstrate the reciprocal relationships between the health system, various health agents and the immigrants --- particularly the immigrant's body as an entity that the state seeks to supervise and define. Although the Israeli vaccination programme for immigrants was generally described by its designers as an unproblematic and necessary step in transforming the immigrants into members of `modern civilisation', deeper research reveals that on many occasions vaccination policy did indeed encounter difficulties. As historian David Arnold has claimed, states supervise and control the body politic by disciplining individuals bodies.2 Vaccinations, as part of a broader system of regulations that govern the care of infants, hygiene and health, constitute one example of the ways countries supervise the bodies of their citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration, Health and Ethnicity in the Modern World
EditorsCatherine Cox, Hilary Marland
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781137303233
ISBN (Print)9781137303226, 9781349454129
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Publication series

NameScience, Technology and Medicine in Modern History
ISSN (Print)2946-9643
ISSN (Electronic)2946-9651


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