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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Tropical Medicine and Animal Diseases: Onderstepoort and the Development of Veterinary Science in South Africa, 1908-1950
Author:Brown, Karen
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:veterinary medicine
research centres
Health and Nutrition
History and Exploration
Education and Oral Traditions
Development and Technology
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Abstract:This article traces the development of agricultural science at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, near Pretoria, South Africa, from its founding in 1908 until the 1950s, by which time many enzootic and epizootic diseases had either been eradicated, or were largely controllable through various forms of prophylaxis. The Institute demonstrated the political and economic significance attributed to the pastoral industry in South Africa and the conviction that scientific discoveries could increase output. During this period, researchers explicated the aetiology and provenance of hitherto mysterious diseases such as lamsiekte, geeldikkop and African horsesickness. They developed vaccines, some of which were adopted internationally. The nature of their investigations showed that veterinary science increasingly entailed more than just progress in biomedical procedures. Ecological factors, in particular the nutritional state of the veld, became a priority from the 1920s onwards as veterinarians saw their function as promoting animal health as well as eliminating disease. Dealing with contagious infections also incorporated less welcome, and at times controversial, approaches to disease control. The imposition of pastoral regulations illustrated the expanding powers of the South African State, founded on presumptions of scientific legitimacy. The article also explores the contribution made by African communities and settler farmers to the institutionalization of veterinary knowledge, as well as the role South African researchers played in the evolution of a colonial, as well as an increasingly international, scientific culture. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]