The Future of Hansen Disease Settlements: Social Memory, Activism and Curatorship

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2020) | Viewed by 20784

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Interests: social and cultural anthropology; social history; material contexts of people with disabilities; ethnography

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Guest Editor
Anton de Kom University of Surinam, Leysweg 86, Tammenga, Suriname
Interests: social sciences in a multi-ethnic society; research methodology; social heritage of Hansen Disease settlements

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Guest Editor
Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, 20 Kirkwood Avenue, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
Interests: the history of medicine, health, civil and criminal law and disability; history of mission, especially medical missionaries; history of welfare, charity, and philanthropy. Also, Indian history, particularly early colonial South India and early colonial state formation, and Pacific history, particularly history of health and medicine

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue focuses on contemporary issues of memory, activism, and curatorship of Hansen Disease settlements. The topic of Hansen Disease or leprosy brings to the Journal the memory and legacy of Hansen Disease settlements which were established in the 19th century in many places around the world. These settlements of another time bring to contrast the contemporary treatment and surveillance of people who have Hansen Disease. The focus of the issue is to bring to light that memory, activism, and curatorship are enduring processes that shape our understanding of the past and the future. We ask for contributions which engaged with the following topics: 1. the memory of natural and human resources that brings out the local and regional ways in which Hansen Disease settlements organized regimes of segregation and isolation and the future of dealing with Hansen Disease settlements. 2. Secular activism, religious humanitarianism (and beyond): postcolonial perspectives. 3. Curatorship: The future of Leprosy Settlement/Museums in any part of the world. This Special Issue welcomes all scholars’ original articles that focus on these topics.

Dr. Patrick Devlieger
Dr. Jack Menke
Prof. Jane Buckingham
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Hansen Disease settlements
  • memory
  • activism
  • curatorship

Published Papers (2 papers)

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17 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Islam, Leprosy, and Disability: How Religion, History, Art, and Storytelling Can Yield New Insights and Acceptance
by Rooshey Hasnain, Jon Queijo, Suheil Laher and Carrie Sandahl
Societies 2020, 10(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10010006 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 14782
Abstract
Age-old fears and misconceptions about leprosy have flourished for centuries and the condition remains both a socially stigmatizing issue and a public health problem in many parts of the globe. In the context of Islam, only a few personal narratives by Muslims living [...] Read more.
Age-old fears and misconceptions about leprosy have flourished for centuries and the condition remains both a socially stigmatizing issue and a public health problem in many parts of the globe. In the context of Islam, only a few personal narratives by Muslims living with leprosy exist, and no one has systematically reviewed accounts of leprosy related disability from early or recent Islamic history, including the Prophet Muhammad’s interactions with individuals living with leprosy. In this article, we present previously untold stories about leprosy, from both English and Arabic sources strongly rooted in Islamic values and principles. After an introduction and brief history of Islam, this article is divided into three main sections: (1) The foundations of early Islamic values about illness, leprosy, and disability; (2) Leprosy and stigma in Islamic communities and/or places; and (3) Art, storytelling, and other expressions by people living with leprosy in various parts of the world. The authors also discuss some of the challenges of defining leprosy terminology based on early historic documents. The overall purpose of this article is to describe historical and religious accounts of leprosy and amplify the collective voices and experiences of Muslims who live with leprosy from a disability studies frame. The authors also introduce the ‘House is Black’, a short documentary that illustrates additional insights and commentary related to disability related leprosy. Full article

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22 pages, 1755 KiB  
Concept Paper
How Colonial Power, Colonized People, and Nature Shaped Hansen’s Disease Settlements in Suriname
by Henk Menke, Toine Pieters and Jack Menke
Societies 2020, 10(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10020032 - 1 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 5413
Abstract
According to the Dutch colonizers in Suriname, leprosy (or Hansen’s disease) was highly contagious and transmitted from human-to-human. A “cordon sanitaire” was constructed around the patients, mainly African slaves and Asian indentured laborers and their descendants. They were tracked down and [...] Read more.
According to the Dutch colonizers in Suriname, leprosy (or Hansen’s disease) was highly contagious and transmitted from human-to-human. A “cordon sanitaire” was constructed around the patients, mainly African slaves and Asian indentured laborers and their descendants. They were tracked down and incarcerated in remote leprosy settlements located in the rainforest. Some patients obeyed the authorities while others resisted and rebelled. Their narratives, revealing conceptual entanglement of the disease with their culture and the Surinamese natural environment, contain important information for understanding their world and their life inside and outside of leprosy settlements. They combined traditional health practices and medicinal plants from their natural habitat with biomedical treatments (practicing medical pluralism). They believed in a diversity of disease explanations, predominantly the taboo concepts treef, tyina, and totem animals associated with their natural habitat (the Surinamese biome). Some of their imaginary explanations (e.g., “leprosy is carried and/or transmitted through soil and certain animals”) show a surprising analogy with recent findings from leprosy scientists. Our research shows that nature contributes to shaping the world of Hansen’s disease patients. An ecological approach can make a valuable contribution to understanding their world. Comparative historical and anthropological research needs to be conducted to map the influence of different biomes on local explanatory models. The now deserted Hansen’s disease settlements and their natural environments are interesting research sites and important places of cultural heritage. Full article
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