Harnessing the power of difference: colonialism and British chronic disease research, 1940-1975
Moore, Michael D.
Social History of Medicine
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Recent studies of post-war chronic disease epidemiology have generally focused on the histories of research in the USA and UK. Using the archival records of a major British funding body, the Colonial Medical Research Committee and its successor the Tropical Medical Research Board, this article demonstrates the advantages of bringing a post-colonial analytic to this historiography. It highlights how the administrative and medical interests in population difference at the centre of the new epidemiology came to map onto political apparatus initially created to know, reform and govern colonial subjects. Although detached from imperial aims, British medical scientists nonetheless attached value to colonial populations on the basis of British benefit and turned various sites into laboratories to extract it. This relationship did not die with the end of imperial rule. British scientists continued to pursue chronic disease epidemiology in former colonies well into the post-war period, informing debates about Britain's own public health concerns.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Published online in advance of print
Place of publication