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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

knowledge and information exchange between and within medical cultures when European surgeons and doctors tried to establish the value of non-​European cures, or when Africans shared knowledge of cures from 79 Slaves and medicine: black perspectives79 Africa as well as America among themselves and with Amerindians. For instance, the slaves in the New World recognized plants with medicinal properties that they had used in Africa and passed this information on to each other.3 Afro-​Surinamese leprosy management was part of a broad spectrum of healthcare activities, just

in Leprosy and colonialism
Suriname and the Netherlands, 1863– 1890
Stephen Snelders

19 5 Transformations and discussion: Suriname and the Netherlands, 1863–​1890 After the emancipation of the slaves in 1863 in Suriname, the legacy of leprosy control and fear of the disease in the slave society continued to affect leprosy management until the end of direct Dutch rule in 1950. This situation continued despite the profound changes that slowly turned the colony into a ‘modern’ colonial state. These changes were related to the transition of the plantation economy to twentieth-​ century late colonial capitalism in which large-​ scale agriculture

in Leprosy and colonialism