'Pestilential Emanations', Medical Knowledge, and Stigmatisation in Saint-Louis, Senegal, 1854-1920

Authors

  • Kalala Ngalamulume Byrn Mawr College, USA

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.20.1.2021.3792

Keywords:

Senegal, Saint-Louis, Colonial Africa, Yellow Fever, epidemic diseases, forced removals, urban planning, urban poor, tropical climate

Abstract

This article shows how French doctors based in Saint-Louis-du-Sénégal, the capital of colonial Senegal, conceptualised the Senegambian region as a diseased environment and Africans as carriers of infectious agents. It explains how perceptions of the hot tropical climate, combined with outbreaks of epidemic diseases and seasonal allergies, were instrumental in the processes of urban transformation through hygienic measures such as waste removal, the closing of cemeteries, and the imposition of new building codes. The article also shows how the stigmatisation of Africans was implicated in the forced removal of the urban poor – firstly from the city centre, and later from the entire city-island. Colonial medical knowledge in Senegal was initially based on the miasma theory, however, germ theory was adopted in the aftermath of the 1900 yellow fever epidemic. Both theories, in relation with racialism, impacted the urban landscape in Saint-Louis, Senegal.

Author Biography

Kalala Ngalamulume, Byrn Mawr College, USA

Associate Professor Dr Kalala Ngalamulume is with History and Africana Studies at Bryn Mawr College in Pennyslvania, U.S.A.  He is the author of several scholarly articles and book chapters on the social history of medicine, disease, and health in Senegal.  He is also the author of Colonial Pathologies, Environment and Western Medicine in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal, 1867-1920 (2012), and co-editor with Paula Viterbo of Medicine and Health in Africa: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (2010). He has published in the Journal of African History, Journal of West African History, Cahiers d’Études Africaines, Politique Africaine, History in Africa, African Economic History, Revue de Pédagogie Appliquée, Encyclopedia of African History, and Oxford Bibliographies Online. Kalala has a PhD in History, and an MA in International Affairs.

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Published

2021-04-19

How to Cite

Ngalamulume, K. (2021). ’Pestilential Emanations’, Medical Knowledge, and Stigmatisation in Saint-Louis, Senegal, 1854-1920. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 20(1), 226–246. https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.20.1.2021.3792