Pasteur in Palestine: the politics of the laboratory Academic Article uri icon


  • We examine the creation and functioning of the "Pasteur Institute in Palestine" focusing on the relationship between biological science, health policy, and the creation of a "new society" within the framework of Zionism. Similar to other bacteriological institutes founded by colonial powers, this laboratory was developed in response to public health needs. But it also had a political role. Dr. Leo Böhm, a Zionist physician, strived to establish his institution along the lines of the Zionist aspiration to develop a national entity based on strong scientific foundations. Even though the institute enjoyed several fruitful years of operation, mainly during World War I, it achieved no lasting national or scientific importance in the country. Böhm failed to adapt to new ways of knowledge production, scientifically and socially. The case study of the "Pasteur Institute in Palestine" serves as a prism to view the role of the public health laboratory in the history of Palestine with its ongoing changes of scientific, organizational, and political context.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010