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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Language, Medical Auxiliaries and the Re-Interpretation of Missionary Medicine in Colonial Mwinilungu, Zambia, 1922-51
Author:Kalusa, Walima T.
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies
Geographic term:Zambia
Subjects:health personnel
health care
traditional medicine
colonial period
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531050701218841
Abstract:Until recently, African medical auxiliaries employed in missionary-owned hospitals in colonial Africa have been thought of as little more than agents who both imbibed the imperial ideologies of their European masters and planted those values beyond the confines of mission enclaves. From this standpoint, auxiliaries are seen as having undermined African medical beliefs and praxis. Implicit in this view is the assumption that medical auxiliaries appreciated the Euro-Christian values of their employers and translated missionary medicine in ways that resonated with the expectations of missionary doctors. African auxiliaries were, however, more than the simple creations of white colonial masters. Through an examination of the concepts used by Lunda-speaking auxiliaries to translate mission medicine at the hospital run by the Christian Missions to Many Lands in Mwinilunga, Zambia, from 1922 to 1951, this article argues that auxiliaries translated missionary medicine in ways missionaries could neither imagine nor control. To express, domesticate, and hence familiarize missionary medicine, auxiliaries appropriated concepts from pre-existing Lunda secular and ritual vocabulary through which indigenous medicine in the district was expressed, debated and internalized. Consequently, Christian medicine in Mwinilunga came to be understood as if it were a variation of Lunda medicine - which CMML healers dismissed as no more than a citadel of paganism. In translating mission medicine in this way, African auxiliaries not only confounded their employers' ambition to undermine local medical beliefs, but they also demonstrated that they were self-motivating actors who joined mission employment for reasons often at odds with the expectations of their employers. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]