Unformatted text preview: Health and Medicine in Colonial Africa 05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 1 Introduction Global Health has become an imperative Reality of globalization Economic and medical challenges in face of increased human vulnerability. New opportunities to rethink global medical systems in an interdisciplinary manner that takes seriously basic science, bioengineering, alternative etiologies
My perspective is that of an observer who reflects on the intersection of religion and health I cannot address the subtle questions of science I am committed to medical pluralism
05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 2 Colonial Context You have just read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (HOD) Quintessential colonial novel often misunderstood Psychologized Classical myth Victorian innocence Postmodern Original sin (Hochschild 1998) Think of the particular in HOD Colonial ideology The nightmare of Congo When one considers time, place, and global movements of the 1890s HOD is a scathing critique of colonialism because aspects of its project were genocidal to the 05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 3 extreme Konrad Korzeniowski signed a contract and spent 6 months in Congo Narrator Marlow the alter ego of Conrad was hired by Ivory Company as a steamboat operator to travel to Congo and meet Mr. Kurtz Star collector of ivory In control of situation-all, even the Chiefs feared him He abused and tortured the Congolese including women Killed with the slightest provocation Massacred Congolese and hung their heads as trophies round a flower garden Several people in Congo may have been character Kurtz Assignment in Congo was his glory
05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 4 HOD counter discourse on Colonialism King Leopold desired to have the Congo, choreographed his plans, sought and bought support for it in Europe and US Presented himself as philanthropist carrying our his Christian duty Called an International Conference on Africa, elected Chair of new organization At Berlin Conference of 1885 he got his life long dreamCongo Hired Henry Morton Stanley-journalist turned explorer to set up the Free State of Congo Paid him huge sums Ordered him to sign treaties taking away land 05/07/09 Reaped profits Elias Bongmba 5 What then was Colonialism? Conrad: "Vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience." George W Williams African American Journalist who visited Leopold and then the Congo called it brutality, described Congo as Africa's Siberia, and used the terms "Crimes against humanity" before it was taken up by the international community (Hoschchild) Opposite of civilization, Christianization, Commerce; even Kurtz called it "The horror" Narrator of HOD saw death on a daily basis Colonialism exalted greed, dehumanized Africans Disrupted Social and economic Life in Africa Altered political alignments, imposed political boundaries without regard to Africans Bongmba 05/07/09 Elias 6 Health and Healthcare in Colonial Society Scholarship colonial medicine grew in the 1980s Shula Marks: Interest in social history and social history of medicine Constructivist analysis after Foucault-knowledge/power Creativity in medical anthropology Recognition illness/disease social metaphor and biological condition Religion, health, healing Studies on traditional and herbal medicines
05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 7 Some general observations I Multidisciplinary, growth of texts Blossomed in the 1980s though colonialism started in 15th Cen. Oppositional view of Western/non Western Medicine Dominance of biomedical approaches at the expense of indigenous therapies Close scrutiny of colonial medicine in several works
05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 8 Studies of Colonial Medicine includes Descriptions of diseases Describe Focus on specific epidemics Discourse and analyze medical practice Discuss Medical research during the colonial era Discuss missionary medicine Decline in the political economy of medicine Discuss Continuities and Discontinuity in the postneocolonial world (I will not address this in this presentation) 05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 9 Studies of Diseases in Colonial Times Africa is perceived as place of strange and contagious diseases Some studies were cases of othering in which Africa represents darkness, infectious diseases and dependence on magic and witchcraft Studies also focused the reality of diseases highlighting diseases endemic to the region (Hartwig and Paterson) Malaria tryponosomiases Yellow Feaver Schistosomiases Onchocerciasis filerial parasites HIV virus Ebola Africa entered the previous century with an outbreak of trypanosomiases and itElias Bongmba with HIV/AIDS closed it 05/07/09 10 Focus on Specific Diseases Emphasize developments in biomedical healthcare Colonial medical institutions created Attempts to eradicate certain infectious diseases. Focus on trypanosomiases Health care experts followed its epidemiology and ecology Attempts were made to combat it Discovery of the parasite by J.E. Dutton was highly contested
Elias Bongmba 11 05/07/09 Trypanosomiases in the Congo
Maryinez Lyons argues colonial disruption altered natural and human environment drastically to cause the disease to escalate.(J. A. Mendelsohn says epidemiology considers invasion and disturbance of equilibrium Morris Ford (1963) exploration, military expeditions by Stanley and Van Kerkhoven disrupted ecological conditions and caused the disease to escalate. People were overworked and undernourished according to gov't physician in Lado Belgian and French officials worked to control the disease because it disrupted colonial projects. Belgian King called the people best of the riches of the country. 05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 12 Governor General stated conquest of sleeping sickness Studies address Medical Practice Fanon described colonial medicine a tragic feature of colonialism (Fanon 1987) because it was s symbol of conquest and occupation Medical practice was social control, e.g. in the Congo, Eugene Jamot sent people our to round up people to be vaccinated; cordones sanitaires were established Health practice was also problematic because of racism Several studies discuss racism in colonial medicine in South Africa Harriet Deacon argues that while there may have been direct racist attitudes, all aspects of society such as legislation, class, institutional setting, could have played some influence on racist practice.
05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 13 Medical Research The Trypanosomiases opened the door for research. Laboratories were established in South African, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sierra Leone. The French established several Pasteur institutes in Africa. The South African Institute of Medical Research was set up in 1913(Maureen Malowany, 2000, p. 336) Its mission-develop anti pneumonia vaccine Gained recognition for work on silicosis, tuberculosis, and malaria International organizations were instrumental in supporting research laboratories Research was done in Africa, but most of the important institutes and colleges for tropical diseases were located in London, Liverpool, Paris, Hamburg 05/07/09 Elias Bongmba 14 The other draw back was that pharmaceutical companies Declining interests in political Economy of Health Feature of constructivist, post structuralist interpretive era Ignores issues of Class Ignores reasons for tropical research-safety of colonials and the colonial economy Fails to take cognizance decline in health and life expectancy Ignores one of the growing problem of global health-affordability and the many people who cannot afford it
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