In chapter 13 of the book, The Body Politics Past and Present, the writer has introduced the different views that colonialists and Africans had from the perspective of ailments, as well as the whole concept of biology as well as medicine. The writer has a view that both the Africans and the European colonizers both had an understanding of medicine which they drew from social images so as to mediate on physical realities. It also gives a racist view of how the blacks became associated with contagion, disease, and degradation. Also portrays Africans as an uncivilized continent that required healing from its ailments dirt and disorder. This chapter has focused on the relationship of medicine and imperialism in South Africa. It focuses on how colonialism in African states as a cultural enterprise could not be separated from biomedicine which was at a rise.
Under the subtopic on Biology Romantic Naturalism and the Africans place in nature which has observed on the relationship between man's place in life and the other beasts. The best in this context is the black man who served beast of burden in the slave trade. It portrays the concept of the terms like generic nature that led to such classification where the Africans were viewed as a beast of burdens. It also gives background view of how biological science has evolved historically from the 19th century. It gives a picture of how the how living organism evolved and how they were named. The subtopic gives a crucial role that the interior of Africa played in trying to discover the knowledge about human beings. More so it provides an idea of comparative anatomy and biology that further boosted the idea of racism, showing how the blacks served as a link between man and animals, hence being placed on the bottom ladder of classification. The subtopic shows how nationality physical type and culture played a role in scientific racism.
The proceeding subtopic on the healing mission gives a clearer picture of how the European missionaries in South Africa termed the Africans as suffering savages so that they could take impose what they termed as humane imperialism. The subtopic further illustrates that the medical missionaries were not trained persons, but were individuals who were questing their thirst for politics and economic control. Ironically the subtopic acknowledges that the Africans that is the tswana, for example, were free of diseases. In attracting more Europeans to colonize South Africa the missionaries through the use of laboratory, proofs created suffering images among the Africans. Though the Africans might not have been well informed about bacteria Africans had developed mechanisms to resist such bacteria.
The subtopic shows how the Africans gained a self-consciousness on how the missionaries mistreated them referring them as lubricated wild man of the desert while they dressed in clean, comfortable clothes. This subtopic portrays the immoral behavior of the missionaries who instead of saving the Africans indulged themselves in sexual immorality. The subtopic on the emergence of colonial public health shows how the settler penetrated the interior of South Africa. At this moment, those unqualified personnels were not allowed to perform their duties as surgeons. The colonial rulers aimed at promoting the welfare of the Africans. It also shows the important role of establishing mission schools to teach African students on hygiene and sanitation. The writer has concluded that indeed imperialism and biomedicine were inseparable.
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