A Tool of Empire: the British Medical Establishment in Lagos, 1861-1905

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A Tool of Empire: The British Medical Establishment in Lagos, 1861-1905 Author(s): Spencer H. Brown Reviewed work(s): Source: The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2004), pp. 309343 Published by: Boston University African Studies Center Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4129011 . Accessed: 04/01/2013 14:02 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

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International Journal of African Historical Studie 37, 2 (2004)



By Spencer H. Brown
medicine,andits handmaiden, "European publichealth,servedas 'tools of Empire,' of both symbolic and practicalconsequence,and as images representative Euroof to conquer,occupy or settle.... medicineservedas an peancommitments, variously instrument empire,as well as an imperializing of culturalforce in itself.... " I So arguedRoy MacLeod in 1988. William Bynum statedthat tropicalmedicine itself grew from the mid-1800s on because of "the intensificationof imperialrivalries" and because of its "increasedcapacity ... to aid in Christianizing, civilizing,comthat the mercialising,or simply dominating" new territories had come underEuroin pean rule. "If medicinecould tamethe diseases thatwere rampant the tropics,it had undoubted force as a tool of empire...."2 Therewere those in the late political 1800s who felt "thatmedicine itself justifiedimperialism."3 David Arnoldasserted in 1988 that"medicinewas a partof the ideology ... of empire" and that"imperial powerswere beginning[in the late 1800s]to use medicineas a way of winningsupof portfrom a newly subjectpopulation, balancingout the coercivefeaturesof colonial rule,andof establishing widerimperialhegemonythancould be derivedfrom a conquest alone."4 The positionthatcolonial medicine,especiallyits tropicalcomponent,was a and tool of Europeanimperialism--bothin its establishment in its justification--is in an interpretation commonamong scholars,especiallythose interested non-West-

I would like to thank my friend and colleague, William L. Burton, for photocopying the many pages of the Lagos Blue Books; his kindness in doing so has literally made this study possible. My thanks to the Western Illinois University Foundation for a Summer Stipend that facilitated the latter stages of this research. My special thanks also to Kathy Dahl of the WIU Libraryfor her referenceknowledge and skills in locating pertinent sources. Finally, this study is in memory of Doris, my wife and friend. 1 Roy MacLeod, "Preface,"in Roy MacLeod and Milton Lewis, eds., Disease, Medicine, and Empire: Perspectives on WesternMedicine and the Experience of European Expansion (London, 1988), x. 2 William F. Bynum, Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1994), 148. 3 Ibid., 152. 4 David Arnold, "Introduction: Disease, Medicine, and Empire," in David Arnold, ed., Imperial Medicine and Indigenous Societies (Manchester, 1988), 16.

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