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Colonial Pathologies, Environment, and Western Medicine in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal, 1867-1920

Ngalamulume, Kalala

Colonial Pathologies, Environment, and Western Medicine in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal, 1867-1920

Series: Society and Politics in Africa - Volume 21

Year of Publication: 2012

New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2012. 246 pp., num. ill.
ISBN 978-1-4331-1499-1 hb.  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.480 kg, 1.058 lbs

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Book synopsis

Focusing on yellow fever, cholera, and plague epidemics as well as on sanitation in the context of urban growth in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal between 1867 and 1920, this book explores how the French colonial and medical authorities responded to the emergence and re-emergence of deadly epidemic diseases and environmental contamination. Official reactions ranged from blaming the Africans and the tropical climate to the imposition of urban residential segregation and strictly enforced furloughs of civil servants and European troops. Drastic and disruptive sanitary measures led to a conflict between the interests of competing conceptions of public health and those of commerce, civil liberties, and popular culture. This book also examines the effort undertaken by the colonizer to make Senegal a healthy colony and Saint-Louis the healthiest port-city/capital through better hygiene, building codes, vector control, and the construction of waterworks and a sewerage system. The author offers insight into the urban processes and daily life in a colonial city during the formative years of the French empire in West Africa.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Kalala Ngalamulume is Associate Professor in the Department of History and in the Africana Studies Program at Bryn Mawr College. He is the author of several articles and book chapters on the history of health and disease in Senegal and co-editor with Paula Viterbo of Medicine and Health in Africa: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (2010). He has also published in the Journal of African History, African Economic History, History in Africa, Revue de Pédagogie Apliquée, Encyclopedia of African History, and Oxford Bibliographies Online.


«This is a history of epidemic disease and the struggle against it in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Saint-Louis, the capital of Senegal. It is a major contribution to both medical and colonial history.» (‘Martin Klein, Professor Emeritus, History Department, University of Toronto’)
«Kalala Ngalamulume sheds a spotlight on several cultural worlds (nineteenth-century French colonial, Muslim, and traditional Senegalese) brought together in the health and society of Saint-Louis, an old and influential town near the mouth of the Senegal River. Long the capital of French exploration and then administration, it was also the destination of numerous migrants from all over the Senegalo-Mauritanian zone. By examining crises of cholera, yellow fever, and other emergencies, Ngalamulume shows competing understandings and behaviors and takes us far beneath the traditional evenementiel accounts that have dominated the literature.» (David Robinson, Distinguished University Professor, Michigan State University)


Society and Politics in Africa. Vol. 21
General Editor: Akwasi Osei