Curing Their Ills

Colonial Power and African Illness

Megan Vaughan



This is a lively and original book, which treats Western biomedical discourse about illness in Africa as a cultural system that constructed "the African" out of widely varying, and sometimes improbable, materials. Referring mainly to British dependencies in East and Central Africa in the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, it draws on diverse sources ranging from court records and medical journals to fund-raising posters and "jungle doctor" cartoons. Curing Their Ills brings refreshing concreteness and dynamism to the discussion of European attitudes toward their others, as it traces the shifts and variations in medical discourse on African illness.


[Vaughan] has written an especially interesting, insightful and important study of European attitudes toward Africa and Africans in the broad realm of colonialism and health care. - Robert A. Myers, African Studies Review


Megan Vaughan is a Distinguished Professor at the City University in New York. She is a historian of Africa and of colonialism.