Dr. Anat Mooreville is this year’s Hazel D. Cole Fellow in Jewish Studies.
Editor’s note: The Hazel D. Cole Fellowship in Jewish Studies is a prestigious position offered to doctoral and post-doctoral students. This year, we welcomed Anat Mooreville, a recent Ph.D. in history at UCLA. Dr. Mooreville will share her research at a March 8th talk, “‘Dr. Loewenstein, I Presume?’: Israeli Eye Aid to Africa, 1959-1973.” Find out more and register here for this event, which is part of our “Israel Studies Today” lecture series.
We recently caught up with Dr. Mooreville and learned more about her fascinating research into the medical history of the Middle East, which she will be showcasing as part of her Spring Quarter course on global health. Read on to find out more about this talented historian!
Hannah Pressman: Congratulations on becoming Dr. Mooreville this past fall! Please share a little about your dissertation research. How did you make your way to this topic?
Anat Moorevile: At the turn of the century, the infectious eye disease trachoma was ubiquitous in practically every country in the world: whether in the United States’ “trachoma belt” through the Appalachian mountains, the Jewish ghetto in Amsterdam, or villages along the Egyptian delta. Its prevalence led to the founding of the first eye hospitals in Europe and helped to launch ophthalmology as a specialty. Although trachoma is still cited as the leading cause of preventable blindness, it has all but been erased from public consciousness.
My dissertation, “Oculists in the Orient: A History of Trachoma, Zionism, and Global Health, 1882-1973” (which I am turning into my first book project), examined how a wide range of actors—including physicians, scientists, hospitals, aid organizations, governments, and the public—defined and deemed eye health salient from political, economic, scientific and cultural perspectives in Ottoman and Mandate Palestine and Israel from the late nineteenth century through the 1970s. Rather than confined to a single geographic space, tracking Jewish interest in trachoma mirrors important shifts in geopolitical developments, highlighting new areas of the globe with each decade: German medical and orientalist scholarship in the late nineteenth century, the rise of the American-sponsored Hadassah Medical Organization in British Mandate Palestine, decolonizing North Africa in the 1950s, and sub-Saharan Africa in the postcolonial era.