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Week 20: Medical Colonisation

Throughout the year, we have looked at various interactions between European and non-European medicine. In this session, we’ll revisit some of the themes introduced at the start of the year, and consider the extent to which medicine was a ‘tool of empire’. We’ll consider who benefitted from the importation of Western medicine to the colonies, and how successful Europeans were at ensuring the dominance of their own systems of practice. We will also look at how non-Europeans responded to the introduction and incursion of Western medicine into their lives, and how they attempted to adapt to competing knowledge systems that threatened the methods and livelihoods of traditional practitioners. A discussion of these issues will take us into the post-colonial period, and the medical legacies of empire throughout the world.


Discussion Questions:

-How accepting were non-Europeans of Western medical practices such as vaccination and quarantine?

-To what extent were indigenous medical practices displaced by biomedical practices in the former colonies?

-How did local practitioners adapt to the competition provided by Western medicine?

-Was imperial medicine a product of reciprocity and exchange, or did it remain a largely unaltered Western system of practice?


Background Reading:

Pratik Chakrabarti, Medicine and Empire, 1600-1960 (Basingstoke, 2014), ‘Ch. 10: Colonialism and Traditional Medicines,’ and ‘Conclusion: The Colonial Legacies of Global Health’, pp.182-205

Required Reading:

**Waltraud Ernst, ‘Beyond East and West: From the History of Colonial Medicine to a Social History of Medicine(s) in South Asia,’ Social History of Medicine 20 (2007), pp.505-524 [e-journal]

*Karen Flint, 'Competition, Race, and Professionalization: Healers and White Medical Practitioners in Natal, South Africa in the Early Twentieth Century', Social History of Medicine, 14.2 (2001), 199-221 [e-journal]

*Kent Maynard, ‘European Preoccupations and Indigenous Culture in Cameroon: British Rule and the Transformation of Kedjom Medicine,’ Canadian Journal of African Studies 36 (2002), 79-117. [e-journal]

*Randall M. Packard, ‘Post-Colonial Medicine,’ in Roger Cooter and John Pickstone (eds.) Medicine in the 20th Century (Amsterdam, 2000), pp.97-112. [extracts]

Further Reading:

Andrew Cunningham and Birdie Andrews (eds), Western Medicine as Contested Knowledge (Manchester, 1997)

E.M. Collingham, Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj (Cambridge, 2001), esp. Ch: 2, ‘The Anglicization of the Body’, pp.50-92

Steven Feierman, ‘Struggles for Control: The Social Roots of Health and Healing in Modern Africa,’ African Studies Review 28 (1985), 73-147 [e-book]

William Gallois, ‘Local Responses to French Medical Imperialism in Late Nineteenth-Century Algeria,’ Social History of Medicine 20 (2007), 315-331. [e-journal]

Anil Kumar, ‘“Defying” Medical Autonomy: Indigenous Elites and Medicine in Colonial India’, in P. Bala (ed.), Biomedicine as a Contested Site (Lanham, 2009), 29-44.

Douglas A. Lorimer, Science, Race Relations and Resistance, Britain 1870-1914: A Study of Late Victorian and Edwardian Racism (Manchester, 2013)

Luise White, Speaking with Vampires: Rumour and History in Colonial Africa (Berkeley, 2000) [e-book]