Leprosy and colonialism

Suriname under Dutch rule, 1750–1950

By Stephen Snelders

Leprosy and colonialism


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1299-6
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: May 2017
  • BIC Category: MEDICAL / History, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism, SCIENCE / History, History of the Americas, History of medicine, Historical geography, Colonialism & imperialism, HISTORY / Social History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues, History of Medicine, History, South America, Social & cultural history, Infectious & Contagious Diseases, HISTORY / Historical Geography, HISTORY / Latin America / South America, History Of The Americas, Medicine / History of medicine, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, Humanities / Social & cultural history
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


Leprosy and colonialism investigates the history of leprosy in Suriname within the context of Dutch colonial power and racial conflict, from the plantation economy and the age of slavery to the modern colonial state. It explores the relationship between the modern stigmatization and exclusion of people affected with leprosy, and the political tensions and racial fears originating in colonial slave society, exerting their influence until after the decolonization up to the present day. In the book colonial sources are read from shifting perspectives, of the colonial rulers and, 'from below', the ruled. Though leprosy is today a neglected tropical disease, recognizing influences of our colonial heritage in our global management of health and disease, and exploring the perspectives of other cultures are essential in a time in which migration movements make the permeability of boundaries, and transmission of diseases, more common then perhaps ever before.


Stephen Snelders is Research Fellow in the Freudenthal Institute of the Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands


Part I: Leprosy in a slave society
1. The making of a colonial disease in the eighteenth century
2. A policy of 'Great Confinement', 1815-1863
3. Slaves and medicine: black perspectives
4. 'Battleground in the jungle': the Batavia leprosy asylum in the age of slavery
Part II: Leprosy in a modern colonial state
5. Transformations and discussion, Suriname and the Netherlands, 1863-1890
6. Towards a modern colonial state: reorganizing leprosy care, 1890-1900
7. Developing modern leprosy politics, 1900-1950
8. Colonial medicine and folk beliefs in the modern era
9. Complex microcosms: asylums and treatments, 1900-1950
Sources and select bibliography

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