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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'...They Say That They do Not Know This Disease': Epidemic Influenza in Rural Natal, 1918-1919
Author:Sparks, Stephen
Periodical:Journal of Natal and Zulu History
Geographic terms:South Africa
medical history
Health and Nutrition
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
Ethnic and Race Relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This article explores the politics of disease in Natal, South Africa, in the context of the escalating fears and traumatic experiences associated with the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. In particular, it examines local African experiences and responses to the epidemic, relating them to official and popular white discourses about the imagined and actual manifestations of the disease. Drawing on correspondence between the Chief Native Commissioner and rural magistrates in Natal from the period 1918 to 1919, the article focuses on the areas administered by the Native Affairs Department. The first part analyses the impact of the epidemic on Africans; the second part interrogates the responses of Africans to the experience of the epidemic. The key argument advanced is that the fixation of official and popular white discourses on the failure of a significant proportion of Natal's African population to submit to vaccination against the flue, and the temptation to understand this as a form of resistance to the imposition of Western biomedical models of treatment, elides a range of other explanations rooted in the realities of the history of the epidemic and power in the region. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]