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Suriname under Dutch rule, 1750– 1950

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.

The Batavia leprosy asylum in the age of slavery
Stephen Snelders

93 4 ‘Battleground in the jungle’: the Batavia leprosy asylum in the age of slavery Leprosy sufferers detected under the ‘Great Confinement’ policies, and particularly those who were slaves, were sent to the Batavia leprosy asylum. By segregating them from the outside world, the perceived threat of a potential spread of their infection to the slave society, higher social groups, and even the Netherlands, was controlled. The geographically isolated leprosy asylum in the Suriname colony performed an essential role in colonial society. The asylum also established

in Leprosy and colonialism
Abstract only
Stephen Snelders

to control whose body.26 7 Introduction7 Leprosy politics in Suriname Compulsory segregation policies began in Suriname in the second half of the eighteenth century and anticipated global developments in the age of imperialism. The policies took the form of a ‘Great Confinement’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault) in the decades between 1830 and 1860.27 Close to one out of every 100 inhabitants were condemned or suspected of having leprosy, and confined to the Batavia leprosy asylum or segregated in their own homes or elsewhere. Although segregation

in Leprosy and colonialism
Stephen Snelders

leprosy sufferers that had started in the second half of the eighteenth century began to resemble a ‘Great Confinement’ in the period from 1830 to 1860. Close to one out of every 100 inhabitants was condemned or suspected of having leprosy or elephantiasis and confined to the Batavia leprosy asylum, or segregated at home or elsewhere. The leprosy asylum did not function in the first place as a medical establishment, but rather as an instance of colonial order. From this perspective, leprosy policy in Suriname in this period can be designated as a policy of ‘Great

in Leprosy and colonialism