Disease, most often imagined in the past as an external invasion of bacteria or viruses, can also be imagined as "dis-ease," a set of political, economic, and social imbalances that disturb the well-being of people's lives. Today, these imbalances would be termed psychological and psychosomatic diseases, but in a colonial arena, such as early twentieth-century South Africa, these forms of disease were inadvertently perpetuated and ignored. In addition, certain somatic diseases, such as tuberculosis, introduced into South Africa by the Europeans, had unforeseen and often fatal effects on the health of the natives. Tuberculosis, especially, became a peculiarly raced disease. Peter Abrahams fictionally recreates this area of colonial history in his 1946 novel, Mine Boy, which presents us with characters who negotiate the uncertain and often tragic terrain of colonial introduced and induced diseases. In particular, characters confront and deal, as best they can, with somatic, psychological, and psychosomatic diseases in ways that highlight the racist society of colonial South Africa.


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pp. 153-169
Launched on MUSE
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