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Pages  - 

62 - 70

Publication :

16 décembre 2022

A brief history of biopolitics in Senegal. The hygienist ordering of society

Adama Aly Pam

Rubrique - Global Africa N°2



En Français

The history of colonial medicine in Africa is also the history of the establishment of a political and ideological order theorized by colonial doctors. This study is a contribution to the history of the search for miasmas and viruses in the far-flung regions of Africa, considered to be “the tomb of the white man”, and investigates bio-politics and governmentality practices related to the establishment of order in colonized societies through public health policies that have left their lasting mark on the space and the bodies. The weakness of francophone historiography regarding the history of health in the French possessions in Africa has long been hindered by the justification of medical action as a benefit that justifies the colonial enterprise and the civilizing mission of France. By questioning the interactions that had existed between health and colonization, English-speaking authors put forward the new medicine as a primary actor in the colonial enterprise and believe that it is impossible to analyze one without the other.Some authors who have studied the issue of yellow fever explain its introduction into Africa through the triangular slave trade between Africa, Europe and America. Since the colonies had a reputation for being unhealthy, biological pacification - more than political pacification - was the prerequisite for any attempt at conquest. It was at the beginning of the 20th century that a new policy oriented towards the protection of the “indigenous” population was developed. Health policy then turned to the demographic issue.Considering the difficulty of subjecting the indigenous people to hygiene, on the one hand, because of quarantines, compulsory vaccinations and sanitary cordons and, on the other hand, because the indigenous people were considered as reservoirs of viruses where all contagious diseases have originated, the administration progressively adopted a policy of segregating the population in areas forbidden to Europeans and assimilated people. Medical research has used the bodies of the indigenous people as guinea pigs and these past practices, extensively documented by medical archives, keep on reappearing in the speeches of groups opposed to the current vaccination policies.

Keywords  :

Health policy, hygiene, discrimination, west-ern medicine, surveillance, bio-politics, epidemic manage-ment, tropical medicine, colonization, Pasteur Institute, Pastorians

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