Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 May 2014
All things in nature are interesting to study, and especially humanity. The different phases in the different classes of life cannot fail to be interesting, and a medical man can gain a far greater insight through such study into the domestic life of his fellow creatures than anyone else.
The word “progress” has its true meaning and significance in the higher walks of medicine. It does not mean a mere improvement in the principles and art of healing. It means a practical victory and conquest over nature by man. Now the greatest of all the aims of civilisation is the acquisition of natural knowledge, the conquest and subdual of nature to the service of the happiness of man.
The aim of the present paper is to examine the concept of western medicine in South Africa by exploring the forms through which its authority was established. The paper is based on an analysis of the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ), which resurfaced after 1893 as a monthly publication. Rather than seeing the SAMJ as a documentary source, I consider it to be a powerful representation of the making and meaning of western medicine and an indicator of the ascendancy and limits of western medicine. Most importantly, the SAMJ illustrates the intersection between an emergent western medical episteme and a larger colonial discourse of race and sexuality.
The financial assistance of the Center for Science Development (South Africa) and the MacArthur Program (University of Minnesota) is hereby acknowledged. I would like to thank Jean Allman, Allen Isaacman, David Roediger, Adam Sitze, May Fu, Heidi Gengenbach, and Vivienne Mentor for comments on an earlier draft. They, however, do not share responsibility for the argument or conclusions drawn here.
1 “The Medical Professional and the Bedside Manner,” South African Medical Journal (hereafter SAMJ) 7/1 (May 1899), 14.Google Scholar
3 For a criticism of David Arnold's analysis of perspectives on the Indian plague see Das, Veena, “Subaltern as Perspective,” Subaltern Studies VI (Delhi, 1989), 317.Google Scholar Das suggests that colonial medicine is often studied in terms of its consequences rather than “the forms through which its authority is established.”
4 For an example of this approach see Burrows, Edmund H., A History of Medicine in South Africa: Up to the End of the Nineteenth Century (Cape Town, 1958).Google Scholar
5 van Heyningen, Elizabeth, “Public Health and Society in Cape Town 1880-1910” (Ph.D., University of Cape Town, 1989).Google Scholar This study builds on Maynard Swanson's earlier examination of the sanitation syndrome and urban segregation. See Swanson, M., “The Sanitation Syndrome: Bubonic Plague and Urban Native Policy in the Cape Colony, 1900-09,” JAH, 18 (1977), 387–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7 These studies also draw on other medical sources such as the South African Medical Record. Dubow's study draws on the SAMJ mainly for the period after 1902.
8 In this essay, I am employing the word “native” neither in the derogatory manner in which it was used by colonialists nor in the way it is used by racists in contemporary South Africa. While conscious of the pitfalls of nativism, I am instead contesting a strand of postcolonial theory which only sees the native as a product of colonialism. In reading colonial medical documents I have seldom included the names of local medicines or the names of subaltern healers. To that extent I am aware that the production of knowledge is stacked against me. The designations “kaffir,” “native,” “Hottentot,” “Bushman,” and “coloured” are both symptoms of a colonial discourse and constitutive of the rules of that discourse. Basically, I am interested in the ways in which race and sex articulate with discourses of medicine. I therefore seriously consider the racial signifiers deployed in the medical journals as an effect of medical discourses.
9 Michel Foucault as cited in Stoler, Anne, Race and the Education of Desire (London, 1995), 3.Google Scholar
11 The formation of the SAMA was proposed at the Fourth South African Medical Congress held in Graham's Town in December 1896. “Editorial,” SAMJ, 4/9 (January 1897), 224.Google Scholar
12 The BMA only accounted for one third of the total of about 800 doctors in South Africa (including Rhodesia). In 1896 its total membership was 102. “Annual Report of the BMA,” SAMJ, 4/7 (November 1896), 175.Google Scholar
14 “On the Formation of the South African Medical Association,” SAMJ, 4/6 (October 1896), 145–48.Google Scholar
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16 “The First South African Medical Association Conference, Johannesburg,” SAMJ, 6/7 (November 1898), 154.Google Scholar
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26 Andrew Smith was attached to the Native Institute at Lovedale in the Eastern Cape, where he conducted his research on locally used drugs.
29 Pappe was a Professor of Botany at the South African College.
31 For a synthesis of this view see Dr.Maberly, John, “Notes on the Pharmacology of Some South African Drugs,” SAMJ, 7/6 (October 1899), 123.Google Scholar
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43 An alternative account of the dispersed nature of South African pharmacology should consider other strategies by which black practitioners denied white practitioners access to their knowledge. The examples provided here are the only ones that I have been able to glean from the SAMJ.
44 Maberly, , “Notes on the Pharmacology,” 123.Google Scholar For a discussion on Jane Waterston as an “agent of empire” see van Heyningen, E., “Agents of Empire: The Medical Profession in the Cape Colony, 1880-1910,” Medical History 33 (1989), 450–71.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed See also Bean, Lucy and van Heyningen, E., eds., The Letters of Jane Elizabeth Waterston, 1866-1905 (Cape Town, 1983).Google Scholar
46 Dr.Casalis, G., “The Phenomena of Menstruation and Parturition Among the Native Women of Basutoland,” SAMJ, 4/2(June 1896), 29.Google Scholar
47 Ibid., 30.
53 See “Editorial,” SAMJ, 4/3 (July 1896)Google Scholar, for a vote of thanks to Casalis for his insightful research.
54 George Casalis was the son of Eugene Casalis of the Société des Missions Evangéliques, the person often credited with being the first to “write a full account of the customs and beliefs of the Basuto.” Ashton, Hugh, The Basuto (London, 1952), vii.Google Scholar
55 Eugene Casalis cited in ibid., 55.
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64 See Swanson, “Sanitation Syndrome,” and Van Heyningen, “Public Health.”
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73 MOH 1/2, Doc 524 (no. 142 H), State Archives, Cape Town, South Africa.
76 Ibid., 229.
77 Dr.Fuller, , “An Original Research into the Causes of Death from Infantile Diarrhoea,” SAMJ, 5/3(July 1897), 57.Google Scholar
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