Gender, Religion, and Secularism in the English Mission Hospital of Jerusalem, 1844–1880

Gender, Religion, and Secularism in the English Mission Hospital of Jerusalem, 1844–1880

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Yali Hashash

This article offers new insights into the operation of the Mission Hospital built in Jerusalem in 1844 by the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews (LJS) and the space that was created within it. I argue that the encounter in Jerusalem between Jewish women and the missionaries worked to create a liminal space that was neither religious nor secular, neither Jewish nor Christian, but all (and none) of these at once. I draw on Olwen Hufton’s concept of the “economy of makeshifts” to portray the hospital’s unique space. Based on the existing literature and new evidence, I show that in effect the Mission Hospital served women more than men, and I suggest that the gender composition of the patients allowed the hospital to succeed and helped to shape its operation. After a brief review of the literature, I introduce the LJS and compare its Jerusalem medical mission with contemporary medical institutions in England. I then expand on evidence showing that the Mission Hospital was in fact more of a women’s hospital and suggest why that was the case.

+ Abstract

Yali Hashash

This article offers new insights into the operation of the Mission Hospital built in Jerusalem in 1844 by the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews (LJS) and the space that was created within it. I argue that the encounter in Jerusalem between Jewish women and the missionaries worked to create a liminal space that was neither religious nor secular, neither Jewish nor Christian, but all (and none) of these at once. I draw on Olwen Hufton’s concept of the “economy of makeshifts” to portray the hospital’s unique space. Based on the existing literature and new evidence, I show that in effect the Mission Hospital served women more than men, and I suggest that the gender composition of the patients allowed the hospital to succeed and helped to shape its operation. After a brief review of the literature, I introduce the LJS and compare its Jerusalem medical mission with contemporary medical institutions in England. I then expand on evidence showing that the Mission Hospital was in fact more of a women’s hospital and suggest why that was the case.