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Eric Silla adds a new dimension to the Social History of Africa Series through a compelling account of leprosy (Hansen's Disease) in colonial and post-colonial Mali. Unlike many studies of health and disease, People Are Not the Same draws on an extensive collection of life histories to elaborate the perspectives of patients themselves. It thereby weaves the transformation of "leper" identities with changes in medical and social responses to the disease. by situating seemingly local experiences of patients within the larger context of national and global change, Silla deepens our historical understanding of a wide range of issues including stigma, marginality, begging, and migration. He explains how the debilitating nature of leprosy interfered with one's ability to marry, farm, and participate in other facets of "normal" life. Leprosy sufferers became outcasts in their villages and often migrated to treatment centers in Bamako and other towns. At these centers, patients constructed self-conscious communities which empowered them socially and politically.
By privileging African voices in the experience of the disease, Silla presents a moving portrait of leprosy survivors that belies their stereotype as pitiable victims. His study reveals them instead as vibrant historical actors. It is an innovative contribution to the history of French colonialism and of socialism, dictatorship, and democracy in independent Africa. The example of leprosy in Mali also raises important questions about Western public health programs that emphasize biological cures with little regard for social rehabilitation.
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ERIC SILLA received a B.A. from Yale College and a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. His latest article appears in the Cahier d'Etudes Africaines (no. 144, 1996). A recent exhibit on leprosy at the United Nations featured several of his photographs from Mali. After teaching at Northwestern and Georgetown Universities, Dr. Silla created and directed a study-abroad program in Mali for the School for International Training. He is the recipient of Jacob Javits and Fulbright-Hays fellowships from the U.S. Department of Education. The Social Science Research Council and the Center for Arabic Study Abroad have also awarded him grants for study and research in Africa.Review:
Silla's original, lucidly and imaginatively presented study sets a high standard for other historians to follow, tracing how those afflicted with other diseases have reacted over time to changing politics and treatments. A similar study of AIDS would be particularly welcome, considered, as here, historically, not just clinically, and showing in what ways the patients and their communities have been transformed. - Christopher Fyfe in JOURNAL OF MODERN AFRICAN STUDIES Eric Silla is proud of what his friends, the leprosy patients, have achieved: he tells their story engagingly in a refreshingly interesting book which helps us to understand how people cope with, and rise out of, a socially desperate disease. - Eldryd Parry in AFRICAN AFFAIRS
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Book Description Heinemann, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB0325000042
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STR-0325000042