Climate and Health
One of the most unique excerpts of this entire guidebook is near the very beginning within the section on climate, when the author gathers various statements from doctors about the beneficial qualities of the climate of Algiers on different ailments, especially consumption (tuberculosis). The inclusion of these quotes is especially interesting in that the author appeals here to a sense of authority in collecting these statements from doctors. One expert, Dr. O. Dru, is quoted as saying “the climate of Algiers is opposed to the generation as well as the evolution of pulmonary tuberculosis; this morbid production is only very rarely observed amongst the natives, and the Europeans who do not bring the germ with them never become consumptive”. This quote is representative of many of the others included in lauding Algiers’ climate as a cure-all for consumption, and also fits some of the themes discussed elsewhere on this site of othering different cultures and races. The climate to which Dr. Dru refers is explained in a different quote by a Dr. J. A. Bennett, saying “Algeria is a marvellous country. The climate is one of the most regular and temperate; the mean temperature taken monthly is above that of the Genoese Riviera or of the mountainous regions of the north coast of the Mediterranean”. The fact that the author seeks out the authoritative opinion of professionals makes this section especially unique, because in other areas such as language, sociology, history, or geography, the author himself acts as the sole necessary authority. Further, it is worth noting that these doctor’s statements take up over half of the space allotted for an overview of Algeria's climate, which demonstrates how inextricably health and climate were tied together for the colonial tourist. The section ends with a photograph of the Grand Hotel Des Bains and Thermal Establishment, Hammam-R’hira, which demonstrated how spas and baths were also related to this discussion of health in colonial Algeria.
The connection between health and climate comes up again in a more traditional setting for the discussion of health, when the author gives and overview of hospitals in Algiers, in which Hyam gives an in-depth description of the Hospital Civil and the Hospital du Dey. The Hospital du Dey is the military hospital, which is made to seem extremely well appointed and even spa-like. In his description of the Hospital du Dey, the author mentions how the building is located, commenting that “the place, altogether, is well protected against the cold winds in winter, being situated almost as the foot of Mount Bouzréah”. This aligns with the tie between health and climate, suggesting that cold wind of any kind would be detrimental. Further, he mentions that in the Hospital du Dey “the beds and rooms are fitted with the latest hygienic appliances, on the most improved principals. There are all kinds of hot and cold baths, covered-in galleries and other pleasant promenades for the convalescent”. The efficacy of baths for various ailments in colonial France is supported by Jennings discussion of a colonial bath at Korbous (Qurbus, Tunisia), saying “[Some of the] central tenets of French colonial hydrotherapy and climatology: the twinning of the two sciences in question,..., [and] the certainty of hydrotherapy’s efficacy on the treatment of colonial ills”. We can see just from this description of a hospital that for colonial tourists health was inexorably tied to air, water, and temperature, and exposure to or protection from varying levels of them. SG