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Curing Their Ills

Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power And African Illness


This is a lively and original book, which treats Western biomedical discourse about illness in Africa as a cultural system that constructed "the African" out of widely varying, and sometimes improbable, materials. Referring mainly to British dependencies in East and Central Africa in the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, it draws on diverse sources ranging from court records and medical journals to fund-raising posters and "jungle doctor" cartoons.Curing Their Ills brings refreshing concreteness and dynamism to the discussion of European attitudes toward their others, as it traces the shifts and variations in medical discourse on African illness.Among the topics the book covers are the differences between missionary medicine, which emphasized individual responsibility for sin and disease, and secular medicine, which tended toward an ethnic model of collective pathology; leprosy and the construction of the social role of "the leper"; and the struggle to define insanity in a context of great ignorance about what the "normal African" was like and a determination to crush indigenous beliefs about bewitchment.The underlying assumption of this discourse was that disease was produced by the disintegration and degeneration of "tribal" cultures, which was seen to be occurring in the process of individualization and modernization. This was a cultural rather than a materialist model, the argument being that Africans were made sick not by the material changes to their lives and environment, but by their cultural "maladaptation" to modern life. The "scientific" discourse about the biological inferiority of "the African," traced by one school of scientists to defects in the frontal lobe, makes painful reading today; it persisted into the 1950s.



  • Condition: --
    HPB condition ratings
    • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
    • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
    • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    Conditions Guide
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Sold by: --
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr
  • ISBN-13: 9780804719704
  • ISBN: 0804719705
  • Publication Year: 1992
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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
  • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
  • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
  • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
  • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
  • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
  • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
Conditions Guide
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