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White Plague, Black Labor

Tuberculosis and the Political Economy of Health and Disease in South Africa

Randall M. Packard (Author)

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Why does tuberculosis, a disease which is both curable and preventable, continue to produce over 50,000 new cases a year in South Africa, primarily among blacks? In answering this question Randall Packard traces the history of one of the most devastating diseases in twentieth-century Africa, against the background of the changing political and economic forces that have shaped South African society from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. These forces have generated a growing backlog of disease among black workers and their families and at the same time have prevented the development of effective public health measures for controlling it. Packard's rich and nuanced analysis is a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on South Africa's social history as well as to the history of medicine and the political economy of health.
Randall M. Packard is Asa G. Chandler Professor and Chair of the History Department at Emory College. He is the author of Chiefship and Cosmology.
"After reading this book, no one should fail to see tuberculosis in South Africa in the light of social policies and interests which have prevented its control. In turn, it shows tuberculosis to be one measure of the cost in suffering of the emergence of a modern capitalist society in South Africa."—Rodney Ehrlich, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York

"At almost every point, the author has something fresh to say about previous analyses of the origins, nature and spread of the disease. His subtle exposition of the ideological interpretations of the medical profession—from their adherence to a 'virgin soil' theory to more recent notions of relating to the social and biological aetiology of the disease—is particularly original and thought-provoking. . . . Well researched, effectively organised, and wholly readable."—Shula Marks, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

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