Markku Hokkanen
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Colonising African medicines?
Central African medicines and poisons and knowledge-making in the empire, c.1859–c.1940
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Strophanthin and Strophanthus were accepted in the West as cardiac medicine, not dissimilar to digitalis. For Harry Johnston, the rapid 'discovery' and appropriation of Strophanthus kombe provided a model for the realisation of the largely untapped commercial potential of other Central African plants. From the 1860s to 1880s the conditions in imperial laboratories were particularly favourable towards the investigation of non-European poisons. In the early 1900s, the excitement about substances derived from tropical arrow poisons waned somewhat in Europe. In the early 1920s, indigenous poisons became an acute concern for the colonial authorities following several suspicious deaths in the Southern Province. In the Nyasaland Protectorate of the 1920s, the established institutions of the colonial state were largely in place and staffed by local administrators, police and medical officers: a situation that contrasted with that of the late nineteenth century.

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Medicine, mobility and the empire

Nyasaland networks, 1859–1960


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