David Arnold
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Disease, medicine and empire
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For many nineteenth and early twentieth century European administrators, reformers and physicians, the hazards and depredations of disease were an established part of a hostile and as yet untamed tropical environment. Africa, Asia, the Americas, were all seen to have their fatal and incapacitating diseases, and only through the superior knowledge and skill of European medicine was it thought possible to bring them under effective control. Medicine was a part of the ideology as well as the accountancy of empire. Disease became part of the wider condemnation of African and Asian 'backwardness' just as medicine became a hallmark of the racial pride and technological assurance that underpinned the 'new imperialism' of the late nineteenth century. The value of medicine as an aid to economic imperialism was most fully realised by the emissaries of North American capitalism.

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