chapter  7
14 Pages

Working-class experiences, cholera and public health reform in nineteenth-century Switzerland

ByFlurin Condrau, Jakob Tanner

Public health reform in Switzerland mostly took place during the second half of the nineteenth century and was generally focused on urban centres. In the burgeoning industrial centres, health was now perceived as a public problem to be tackled. In these new urban ways of life, the assurance of 'public health' had to be adjusted to the increasing mobility of people, and the general growth of urban areas required integration into the well-known routines of collective-space administration. The chapter seeks to the cholera epidemic which broke out in Zurich in the summer of 1867 and characterised just such a turning point. The rationalisation process shown by this story may be interpreted as part of a predominant tendency to turn health and illness into scientific facts and define the concomitant problems. Working-class suburbs and the old city centres were increasingly considered as dangerous and as an integral part of a 'monstrous metropolis'.