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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.

Stephen Snelders

19 8 Colonial medicine and folk beliefs in the modern era In the early twentieth century, 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. Both the Afro-​ Surinamese and new British Indian and Javanese migrants maintained their beliefs and practices about leprosy. This on-​going adherence to folk beliefs and practices alongside Western medical knowledge necessitated a response from Dutch colonial medicine. If modern leprosy politics were to

in Leprosy and colonialism
Stephen Snelders

in town (2.5 to 3 per cent of the town population), and warned that children ran the risk of contact and infection.28 A new investigation in 1927 estimated that there was a total of 960 sufferers in the colony. Only 370 of them were admitted to asylums, and roughly the same number were under observation of the medical service in the town or the districts; however, 209 were ‘missing’.29 To the colonial government and Dutch doctors, action seemed necessary. Dutch colonial medicine and the need for reform In 1923, Lampe had arrived in Suriname where he would become

in Leprosy and colonialism