Book presentation of Leprosy and Colonialism: Suriname under Dutch Rule, 1750-1950, written by Dr Stephen Snelders.
This book is the first result coming out of the NWO funded project ‘Leprosy and Empire’, which started some years ago. Another book is due in 2018 and recently, an article presenting a synthetic overview was accepted.
LEPROSY AND EMPIRE
The project as a whole seeks to understand the rationale of colonial health policies. Health policy in a multicultural setting has never been simply a matter of imposing western knowledge on a passive indigenous population. Instead, colonial health policies proved to be determined to a significant degree by the economic needs of the colonizer and by local power relations. By looking at responses to one disease (leprosy) in two very different setting (Suriname and the Dutch East Indies) colonized by the same nation (The Netherlands), it becomes clear how health policies took shape in practice.
The take home message of this project is that although comparative history is very hard work, in the end it pays off. The most important outcome of the project is that responses to leprosy (either repressive or lenient) were determined by issues of labour management and of racial conflict, influencing the management, framing, and construction of the disease.
HISTORY OF LEPROSY IN SURINAME
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. In this way the book traces the agency and autonomy of leprosy sufferers and the frictions between Dutch colonial health policies from ‘above’ and the medical culture and traditions of Afro-Surinamese and other population groups ‘below’.
Programme and more information: www.uu.nl