The intellectual influence of non-medical research on policy and practice in the Colonial Medical Service in Tanganyika and Uganda

Colonial medicine has been depicted in recent scholarship as a key element in the imperial state’s attempt to comprehend, monitor and control subject communities. Earlier hagiographies too emphasised doctors’ intimate knowledge of local attitudes and practices, shaped by humanitarian concern and long service. Yet contemporary sources indicate that doctors were frequently aware of the limits to their understanding of indigenous societies. As colonial states matured, Medical Officers’ lack of knowledge of the underlying causes of disease among empire's indigenous populations provoked increasing concern. Some conditions, defined as social diseases, demanded particular attention, because their incidence was recognised as being shaped by the imperfectly understood nature of local societies. This chapter will examine the nature of colonial knowledge, and the formulation of medical interventions, by focusing on colonial reactions to two social diseases in two neighbouring societies: sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Buhaya in colonial Tanganyika and malnutrition in Buganda, the largest kingdom in Uganda.

in Beyond the state