Explaining how leprosy was considered in various historical settings by referring to categories of uncleanliness in antiquity, is problematic. The book historicizes how leprosy has been framed and addressed. It investigates the history of leprosy in Suriname, a plantation society where the vast majority of the population consisted of imported slaves from Africa. 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. The book explores leprosy management on the black side of the medical market in the age of slavery as contrasted with the white side. The difference in perspectives on leprosy between African slaves and European masters contributed to the development of the 'Great Confinement' policies, and leprosy sufferers were sent to the Batavia leprosy asylum. Dutch debates about leprosy took place when the threat of a 'return' of leprosy to the Netherlands appeared to materialise. A symbiotic alliance for leprosy care that had formed between the colonial state and the Catholics earlier in the nineteenth century was renegotiated within the transforming landscape of Surinamese society to incorporate Protestants as well. By 1935, Dutch colonial medicine had dammed the growing danger of leprosy by using the modern policies of detection and treatment. Dutch doctors and public health officials tried to come to grips with the Afro-Surinamese belief in treef and its influence on the execution of public health policies.
disease is exanthematic and
reminds one in some way of the leprosy of old and elephantism; it feeds
upon the joints, and propagates via physical contact. Blacks infested
with this disease are automatically relegated to a remote corner of the
plantation, where they serve as guards and spend the rest of their time
alienated from friends to keep the entire servile throng from contracting it.1
The city physician of the Surinamese capital Paramaribo told Rolander
that Africanslaves had brought the disease over the ocean from Guinea
in West Africa.2 ‘Boasie’ was supposed to
Slaves and medicine: black
To Dutch doctors and surgeons, the beliefs of the Africanslaves and
especially their belief in the treef as a taboo animal, motivated the
slaves’ laziness and fatalism and hindered the proper realization of
medical policies and treatments. Their opinion was a one-sided and
prejudiced view that ignored existing Afro-Surinamese health practices. In 1769, when Schilling wrote about his observations of leprosy
treatment among the slaves in Suriname, he claimed that in general
there was no treatment, and that the
For Caribbean plantation economies to function and prosper, European
colonizers needed Others –Africanslaves. In Empire, Michael Hardt
and Toni Negri write about this production of Others, the creation of
racial boundaries, and the dark Other as the negative component of
European identity as well as the economic foundation of European
economic systems. They identify contagious diseases as one of the
most important threats to the boundaries between self and Other. For
Hardt and Negri, ‘The horror released by European conquest and colonization is
gain access to the main slave markets in Brazil and Spanish America. The main source of income for the Dutch had been the supply of Africanslaves to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in South America, a trade that Thomson, Wilson and separately the Noels were eager to move into. The African gold trade was also of considerable importance and this, with the profits in American silver from the sugar and slave trades, enabled the completion of the Adventurers’ Atlantic trade loop. It was this highly complex and integrated supply chain that provided Cromwell with the cash
Early French accounts of the Antilles reflect the transformations in
settlement patterns from initiatives with a strong military and commercial character, to more established patterns of plantation colonisation. A number of testimonies have also been left by participants
in the transportation of slaves across the Atlantic to the Americas.
These texts reflect significant displacements and societal changes.
They illustrate how human beings were introduced into new circuits
of exchange, and how Africanslaves were commoditised
A Short History of Guinea and its impact on early British abolitionism
fellow-subjects want bread’. 56
Sharp was also influenced by ideas promulgated after 1763
that the rights of all peoples in the Empire had to be considered, whether
they be Native Americans, Africanslaves, Bengali peasants, Irish or
Canadian Catholics or American and West Indian planters. Sharp did not
accept the colonial settler argument that settlers were merely Britons
abroad, with all the rights of Britons and, most
, especially in his highly influential concept of the ‘Black Atlantic’ which he explores in his influential book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Verso, 1993 ). Gilroy’s work deals in the main with the ancestors of the Africanslaves in the Caribbean, the US and Britain, but as Walter Goebel and Saskia Schabio record in their edited collection, Gilroy’s key concepts have proved very useful indeed to thinkers working in a variety of diasporic contexts who have critically engaged with some of his key concerns ‘by specifying the heterogeneity of
linguistic context of early Creole society. Progressing from
the linguistic to the supra-linguistic levels such as sensibility or emotional bonds, this chapter ends with an exploration of those forms
of knowledge with which colonial commentators most struggled.
frontiers of servitude
Esprit, génie, raison
Africanslaves were often thought distinct to Europeans in something
approaching what would come to be called ‘intellectual capacity’.
Both populations were frequently said to differ in their esprit and
génie. There was some diversity in perspectives about where
ninth to the nineteenth centuries, starting later but also ending a few decades later than its counterpart.
Africanslaves were used as sailors in Persia, pearl divers in the Gulf and soldiers in the Omani army. Many were used as domestic slaves in rich households and as sex slaves. British interception of slave ships off the coast of West Africa and the creation of plantations by the French on the islands of Mauritius and Reunion further boosted demand.