Measuring adaptability: Psychological examinations of Jewish detainees in Cyprus internment camps

Rakefet Zalashik, Nadav Davidovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Argument: Two medical delegations, one from Palestine and one from the United States, were sent to detainment camps in Cyprus in the summer of 1947. The British Mandatory government had set up these camps in the summer of 1946 to stem the flow of Jewish immigrants into Palestine after World War II. The purpose of the medical delegations was to screen the camps' inhabitants and to propose a mental-health program for their life in Palestine. We examine the activities of these two delegations within the context of their scientific interest in the psycho-pathology of displaced persons after World War II and as part of a broader project of mental hygiene. According to the delegations, the detainees would be a potential source of strength for building a new society if they adapted to life in Palestine. However, they would become a burden if they failed to be absorbed. At the same time, the medical delegations also saw the detainee camps as a potential "living laboratory" for scientific exploration. The case of the two medical delegations in Cyprus is also a story about constructing and transgressing medical borders. Apart from the obvious fact that this case study deals with movement of people, refugees as well as health-care workers, it is also about the transmission of knowledge and professions across the ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-441
Number of pages23
JournalScience in Context
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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