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Medicine and Health in Africa

Lecturer: Doreen Kembabazi

This week we will investigate the relationship between empire, health and medicine. With a particular focus on empire in Africa, we will explore the motivations that influenced the provision of healthcare in the colonial world; how medicine and theories of race related to ideologies of empire; and how indigenous and colonial medical ideas and practices interacted and competed. Who was perceived to have authority in the search for health, and why? What legacies of colonial medicine remain, and are the same ideologies and priorities that defined colonial medicine still prominent today?

Discussion/Essay Questions:

  • What was the relationship between medicine and Empire?
  • In what ways did indigenous medical practices and indigenous meanings of sickness and health conflict with colonial notions and colonial medical practices?
  • What priorities drove the provision of medicine in the colonial world?
  • Was ‘racial science’ necessary to the expansion and/or survival of Empire?

Required Readings:

Adam Mohr. Missionary Medicine and Akan Therapeutics: Illness, Health and Healing in Southern Ghana's Basel Mission, 1828-1918

Megan Vaughan 1991 Curing their ills: colonial power and African illness: Chapter 3. The Great Dispensary in the Sky: Missionary Medicine. Available as e-Book via the library

Carol Summers. Intimate Colonialism: The Imperial Production of Reproduction in Uganda, 1907-1925 Signs 1991

Further Readings:

John Illife, East African Doctors: A History of the Modern Profession

Megan Vaughan, Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (Cambridge, 1991)

Megan Vaughan, ‘Healing and Curing: Issues in the Social History and Anthropology of Medicine in Africa’, Social History of Medicine, 7 (1994), pp. 283-295. E-journal

Luise White. Speaking with Vampires Rumor and History in Colonial Africa

Luise White, “‘They Could Make Their Victims Dull’: Genders and Genres, Fantasies and Cures in Colonial Southern Uganda,” American Historical Review, 100.5 (Dec 1995), pp. 1379-1402.

Maryinez Lyons, The Colonial Disease. A Social History of Sleeping Sickness in Northern Zaire, 1900-1940 (Cambridge, 1992). Ch. 7: The campaign. Part one: sleeping sickness and social medicine, pp. 102-136

Adam Mohr Missionary Medicine and Akan Therapeutics: Illness, Health and Healing in Southern Ghana's Basel Mission, 1828-1918 Journal of Religion in Africa Vol. 39, Fasc. 4 (2009), pp. 429-461

Nakanyike Musisi. The Politics of Perception or Perception as Politics? Colonial and Missionary Representations of Baganda Women, 1900–1945

Nancy Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo

Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989)

Morag Bell, 'The Pestilence That Walketh in Darkness'. Imperial Health, Gender and Images of South Africa c. 1880-1910’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 18 (1993), 327-341 JSTOR

Bryan Callahan, “‘Veni, VD, Vici’? Reassessing the Ila Syphilis Epidemic,” Journal of Southern African Studies, 23.3 (1997), pp. 421-440.

Jean Comaroff, “The Diseased Heart of Africa: Medicine, Colonialism, and the Black Body,” in Shirley Lindenbaum and Margaret Lock (eds.), Knowledge, Power, and Practice: The Anthropology of Medicine and Everyday Life (1993), pp. 305-329.

Waltraud Ernst and Bernard Harris (eds), Race, Science, and Medicine, 1700-1960 (London, 1999).

Feierman, S., ‘Struggles for Control: The Social Roots of Health and Healing in Modern Africa’, African Studies Review, 28.2/3 (1985), 73-147.

Karen Flint, Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange, and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 (2008).

Nancy Rose Hunt, “‘Le Bebe en Brousse’: European Women, African Birth Spacing and Colonial Intervention in Breast Feeding in the Belgian Congo,” The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 21.3 (1988), pp. 401-432.

Maryinez Lyons, The Colonial Disease: A Social History of Sleeping Sickness in Northern Zaire, 1900-1940 (Cambridge, 1992). E-book

Roy Macleod and Milton Lewis (eds), Disease, Medicine and Empire: Perspectives on Western Medicine and the Experience of European Expansion (London, 1988).

Randall Packard, “The Invention of the ‘Tropical Worker’: Medical Research and the Quest for Central African Labor on the South African Gold Mines, 1903-36,” Journal of African History, 34 (1993), pp. 271-292.

Jonathan Sadowsky, 'Psychiatry and Colonial Ideology in Nigeria', Bulletin of the History of Medicine 71 (1997), 94-111 E-Journal

Lynn M. Thomas, ‘Imperial Concerns and 'Women's Affairs': State Efforts to Regulate Clitoridectomy and Eradicate Abortion in Meru, Kenya, c. 1910-1950’, The Journal of African History, 39, (1998), 121-145 JSTOR

Feierman, S., ‘Struggles for Control: The Social Roots of Health and Healing in Modern Africa’, African Studies Review, 28.2/3 (1985), 73-147.

Julie Livingston, Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana

Caroline Bledsoe, Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time, and Aging in West Africa

Myron Echenberg, Black Death, White Medicine: Bubonic Plague and the Politics of Public Health in Colonial Senegal, 1914‐1945.

Luongo, Katherine. Witchcraft and colonial rule in Kenya, 1900-1955

Timothy Burke, Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women: Commodification, Consumption and Cleanliness in Modern Zimbabwe

By Marissa Mika Africanizing Oncology Creativity, Crisis, and Cancer in Uganda

Jennifer Tappan. The Riddle of Malnutrition: The Long Arc of Biomedical and Public Health Interventions in Uganda

Gwyn Prins, “But What Was the Disease? The Present State of Health and Healing in African Studies,” Past and Present 124 (Aug.,1989), 159‐179

Susan Whyte, “Anthropological Approaches to African Misfortune, from Religion to Medicine,” in Anita Jacobsen‐Widding and David Westerlund (eds.), Culture, Experience, and Pluralism: Essays on African Ideas of Illness and Healing (1989)

Paul Landau, “Explaining Surgical Evangelism in Colonial Southern Africa: Teeth, Pain and Faith,” Journal of African History 37:2 (1996), 261‐281.

Steven Feierman, “Explaining Uncertainty in the Medical World of Ghaambo,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 74 (2000): 317‐344

Shula Marks, “What is Colonial about Colonial Medicine? And What has Happened to Imperialism and Health?,” Social History of Medicine 10:2 (1997), 205‐219.

Maureen Malowany, “Unfinished Agendas: Writing the History of Medicine of Sub‐Saharan Africa,” African Affairs 99 (2000): 325‐349.

Ismail Abdalla, Islam, Medicine, and Practitioners in Northern Nigeria

Adelola Adeloye, African Pioneers of Modern Medicine: Nigerian Doctors of the Nineteenth Century

Kofi Appiah‐Kubi, Man Cures, God Heals: Religion and Medical Practice Among the Akan of Ghana

David Arnold (ed.), Imperial Medicine and Indigenous Societies J. Beattie and J. Middleton (eds.), Spirit Mediumship and Society in Africa

Ann Beck, Medicine, Tradition and Development in Kenya, 1920‐1970

Janice Boddy, Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan

Alexander Butchart, The Anatomy of Power: European Constructions of the African Body

Gordon Chavunduka, Traditional Healers and the Shona Patient

Gordon Chavunduka, Traditional Medicine in Modern Zimbabwe

Gordon Chavunduka and Murray Last, The Professionalization of Traditional Healers

Albert R. Cook, Uganda Memories

Toyin Falola and Dennis Ituavuar (eds.), The Political Economy of Health in Africa

Feierman and J. Janzen (eds.), The Social Basis of Health and Healing in Africa

Feierman, Peasant Intellectuals: History and Anthropology in Tanzania

John Ford, The Role of the Trypanosomiases in African Ecology

Michael Gelfand (ed.), The Traditional Medical Practitioner in Zimbabwe

Michael Gelfland, Godly Medicine in Zimbabwe

Charles Good, Ethnomedical Systems in Africa: Patterns of Traditional Medicine in Rural and Urban Kenya

G.W. Hartwig and K.D. Patterson (eds.), Disease in African History

John Janzen, The Quest for Therapy in Lower Zaire

John Janzen, Lemba, 1650‐1930: A Drum of Affliction in Africa and the New World

John Janzen, Ngoma: Discourses of Healing in Central and Southern Africa

David Lan, Guns and Rain: Guerillas and Spirit Mediums in Zimbabwe

Tracy Luedke and Harry West (eds.), Borders and Healers: Brokering Therapeutic Resources in Southeast Africa

Maryinez Lyons, The Colonial Disease: A Social History of Sleeping Sickness in Zaire, 1900‐ 1940

Mackenzie (ed.), Imperialism and the Natural World

Shula Marks, Divided Sisterhood: Race, Class and Gender in the South African Nursing Profession

Harriet Moore and Megan Vaughan, Cutting Down Trees: Gender, Nutrition, and Agricultural Change in the Northern Province of Zambia, 1890‐1990

Harriet Ngubane, Body and Mind in Zulu Medicine: An Ethnography of Health

Pamela Reynolds, Traditional Healers and Childhood In Zimbabwe

E.E. Sabben‐Clare (ed.), Health in Tropical Africa During the Colonial Period

Jonathan Sadowsky, Imperial Bedlam: Institutions of Madness in Colonial Southwest Nigeria

P.W. Settel (ed.), Histories of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS in Sub‐Saharan Africa

Shane Doyle. Before HIV: Sexuality, Fertility and Mortality in East Africa, 1900-1980

Eric Silla, People Are Not the Same: Leprosy and Identity in Twentieth‐Century Mali

W.D. Hammond Tooke, Rituals and Medicines: Indigenous Healing in South Africa

Rita Headrick, Colonialism, Health, and Illness in French Equatorial Africa

Patrick Tumwasi, Medical Systems in Ghana: A Study in Medical Sociology

Victor Turner, The Drums of Afflication Merideth Turshen, Political Economy of Health and Disease in Tanzania

I.M. Wall, Hausa Medicine: Illness and Well‐Being in a West African Culture Sheldon Watts, Epidemics and History: Disease, Power, and Imperialism

Stanley Yoder (ed.), African Health and Healing System