Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: An Anthropology of Colonial Unreason

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pp. 1-19

In the early morning of November 12, 1954, the Service d’hygiène mobile et de prophylaxie (Mobile Hygiene and Prophylaxis Service) made its annual stop in Gribi, a village in eastern Cameroon. All the villagers, women and children included, gathered, as they did every year, for their injection of Lomidine. The preventive administration of Lomidine to entire populations, ...

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1. The Wonder Drug

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pp. 20-28

The biography of pentamidine begins with the kind of serendipitous discovery in which historians of medicine delight.1
In 1935, Nikolas von Jancso, a chemist at the University of Szeged in Hungary (who worked with his wife, Hertha, but she rarely makes it into historical accounts), embarked on a new path of inquiry into the value of substances ...

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2. Experiments without Borders

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pp. 29-41

Pentamidine experimentation was a transnational affair. It depended on exchanges between medical experts that crossed imperial lines. Inspired by the experiment of a Hungarian pharmacologist, discovered by British chemotherapy, tested as a chemoprophylactic by Belgian colonial doctors, and enthusiastically adopted by French and Portuguese mobile medical teams, ...

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3. The New Deal of Colonial Medicine

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pp. 42-56

A new world was created in postwar Africa through the mobilization of a set of recent material objects, pentamidine among them. In just a few years, from 1945 to 1948, the new molecule had won over health authorities in the French, Belgian, Portuguese, and, to a lesser extent, British colonial administrations. ...

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4. The Spectacle of Eradication

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pp. 57-77

Nestled in this list is what we might call the poetry of that era. This chapter reflects on an act repeated 819,016 times by 1952 in AOF and more than a million times across Africa before its colonies gained independence: the preventive injection in the buttocks of several cubic centimeters of Lomidine solution. ...

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5. Lomidine, the Individual, and Race

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pp. 78-97

In 1951, in an article published by the Parisian La Semaine des Hôpitaux (Hospitals Weekly), Dr. Louis-Paul Aujoulat, the secretary of state of Overseas France, reiterated the basic postulate underlying health policy in colonial Africa: priority should be given to interventions at the scale of the social body—“the race”—rather than at the individual scale. ...

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6. Good Citizens and Bad Brothers

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pp. 98-114

Pentamidine, that miracle solution of postwar medicine, promised to resolve the “indiscipline of recalcitrants”1—the term used to refer to those who avoided injection sessions. Yet this only shifted the locus of the problem. By easing the epidemic, the new drug paradoxically made the obstacle posed by indiscipline more tangible, since campaigns now aimed to eradicate the disease, ...

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7. Yokadouma, Cameroon, November–December 1954

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pp. 115-130

On the morning of Monday, November 15, 1954, a telegram (quoted above) arrived at the Direction de la santé publique (Public Health Directorate) in Yaoundé; it was sent by Gilbrin (his full name is unknown), the chief regional officer of the region of Boumba-Ngoko, from its capital, Yokadouma. It carried news of five deaths following injections of Lomidine. ...

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8. “We Cried without Making a Palaver”

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pp. 131-147

The administration’s mobilization following the accident at Yokadouma was a security operation, a show of strength; the aim was to maintain public order. Yet the investigators were uneasy; their actions and sweaty palms were those of a nervous colonial state. The authorities were aware of the limits of their expertise: ...

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9. The Misfires of the Imperial Machine

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pp. 148-166

Nkoltang, Nola, Saa, Yokadouma, Goro—the accident of Yokadouma would not warrant a whole book were it not for the recurrence of similar Lomidinization accidents during the 1950s, adding up to a long list of “stupid deaths.”1 The documentary ordering of the catastrophe was also a way of ensuring its repetition: archiving as forgetting. ...

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10. The Swan Song of Eradication

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pp. 167-172

In September 1958, Georges Neujean, the Belgian director of the BPITT (the institution that coordinated sleeping sickness control across Africa) presented a paper on the chemotherapy and chemoprophylaxis of sleeping sickness caused by T. gambiense at the sixth International Congress of Tropical Medicine in Lisbon. Speaking to sleeping sickness experts, ...

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11. How the Drug Became Useless and Dangerous

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pp. 173-184

Celebrated yet abandoned in practice by the end of colonial rule, pentamidinization’s very principle was thrown into question in the 1960s. A new generation of doctors and researchers, some African, demonstrated that pentamidine had no preventive effects per se, and they completely reinterpreted how the drug had curbed the epidemics of the 1940s. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 185-190

I end this story where it began: in Dagenham, East London, where in 1937 the chemist Arthur Ewins synthesized compound MB 800, later renamed pentamidine. In October 2012, as I was finishing the French edition of this book, I made my first visit to the May & Baker factory that, for decades, had manufactured and marketed pentamidine. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 191-194

On November 12, 2014, the French National Academy of Medicine blacklisted this book. A few weeks after publication of the French edition, it issued a press release to condemn my “instrumentalization of history.”1 “The academy . . . cannot allow denigration of the memory of these men who chose, ...

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

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pp. 195-196

Notes

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pp. 197-228

Index

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pp. 229-237