Explorations in the Medical Humanities

A Medical Disaster and its Aftermaths: The Quest for Sleeping Sickness Eradication

Tuesday, October 20, 2020  2:15pm Virtual Event from 2:15pm - 3:30pm EDT

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A Medical Disaster and its Aftermaths: The Quest for Sleeping Sickness Eradication in Colonial Africa
A talk by Guillaume Lachenal, moderated by Thomas Dodman

To sign up for this virtual event, please click here.

Guillaume Lachenal will present an episode of late-colonial public health, the so-called "Lomidinization" campaigns to eradicate sleeping sickness. After the Second World War, these campaigns were launched with great enthusiasm, and led to the administration of preventive Lomidine injections to more than 10 millions African colonial subjects. However, they were abandoned in the late 1950s after the discovery of their erratic side-effects and a series of fatal accidents. Retracing the rise and fall of that "wonder drug", and the sequence of hubris, denial and violence that accompany it, Guillaume Lachenanl examines how colonial medicine left strong marks in African bodies, ecologies and memories – especially in the form of iatrogenic epidemics including HIV and the Hepatitis C virus.

Guillaume Lachenal is Associate Professor in History of Science at the Université Paris Diderot. Trained as a biologist and as a historian of science, he works on medical science in Africa, from the colonial times to the age of global health. He is currently coordinating the ANR project “Memorials and remains of medical research in Africa” (MEREAF), an anthropological and archeological exploration of the ruins and memories associated with the past in African medical institutions. He is the president of the Social Sciences and Public Health scientific committee at the National Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS). His publications include La médecine du tri and Le médicament qui devait sauver l’Afrique. Un scandale pharmaceutique aux colonies.

Thomas Dodman is Assistant Professor of French at Columbia University.

This event is part of the course "Pandemics in Francophone literature and history" taught by Madeleine Dobie and Thomas Dodman at Columbia University. The course explores the history of epidemics and medical confinement in France and some of its colonies/former colonies, from the 1720 plague in Marseille to recent outbreaks of Ebola and our very own pandemic, COVID-19. 

Event co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française, Center for Science and Society, Department of History, Institute of African Studies, and The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.

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