Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 April 2016
In the late 1970s scholars of Europe and its colonies began probing the relationship between medicine and empire. In the decades since, following the cue of Steven Feierman, John Janzen, Megan Vaughan and Randall Packard, the literature has demonstrated that colonial medicine constructed an African ‘other’ and greatly contributed to harmful practices that did not improve the overall health and welfare of the local populations European administrations claimed to be civilising. Through the 1990s, scholarship concentrated primarily on local agency and socio-economic and political factors that furthered our understanding of how medicine and health care operated in a colonial context. These foundational studies have enabled the most recent wave of research in the history of medicine to turn its attention to questions of public health, especially as it relates to the politics of development, nationalism, and decolonisation. Historians, including Sunil Amrith and Clifford Rosenberg, have emphasised the significant role medicine has played in projecting state power in European colonies and have shown how international organisations became prominent agents in shaping national and global health policies. However, their important work has left unanswered questions about the intellectual networks that formed the elite scientific and medical minds of the day and the legacies of health policies under colonial rule.
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8 Chakrabarti, Medicine and Empire, vii.
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17 Neill, Networks in Tropical Medicine, 3. In a similar vein, Lewis’, Mary Dewhurst recent book, Divided Rule: Sovereignty and Empire in French Tunisia, 1881-1938 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013)Google Scholar examines transimperial politics in Tunisia and shows how French, British and Italian interests intersected and competed in the protectorate. These kinds of studies, which cut across European empires, yield a more nuanced view of imperialism and highlight the intense collaboration and negotiation that went on between European administrators and their colonial subject as well as among European administrators.
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24 Heaton, Black Skin, White Coats, 4.
36 Heaton, Black Skin, White Coats, 21.