Slaves and medicine: black perspectives
in Leprosy and colonialism
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This chapter explores leprosy management on the black side of the medical market in the age of slavery as contrasted with the white side. Ethno-botanical research has identified herbal cures for leprosy that still have a place in Surinamese folk medicine, such as the use of a concoction of the bark of the small kasyuma tree. In the Afro-Surinamese experience of the cosmos, man is not only a physical or biological being, but also a spiritual one. To the Afro-Surinamese, the origin of the treef is supernatural. In the 1820s, European doctors began to notice that in the Afro-Surinamese belief system, violations of the treef could lead specifically to leprosy. In the age of slavery, the difference in perspectives on leprosy between African slaves and European masters contributed both to the development of the 'Great Confinement' policies.

Leprosy and colonialism

Suriname under Dutch rule, 1750– 1950

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