The leprosy asylum in India: 1886-1947

Robertson, Jo (2009) The leprosy asylum in India: 1886-1947. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 64 4: 474-517. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrp014

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Author Robertson, Jo
Title The leprosy asylum in India: 1886-1947
Journal name Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-5045
Publication date 2009-10
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/jhmas/jrp014
Open Access Status
Volume 64
Issue 4
Start page 474
End page 517
Total pages 44
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Oxford University Press
Language eng
Abstract Writing against a historical practice that situates the leprosy asylum exclusively within prison-like institutions, this article seeks to show the variation in leprosy asylums, the contingencies of their evolution, and the complexity of their designs, by devoting attention to the characteristics of the leprosy asylum in India from 1886 to 1947, in particular to the model agricultural colony. Drawing upon the travel narratives of Wellesley Bailey, the founder of the Mission to Lepers in India, for three separate periods in 1886, 1890-91, and 1895-96, it argues that leprosy asylums were formed in response to a complex conjunction of impulses: missionary, medical, and political. At the center of these endeavors was the provision of shelter for persons with leprosy that accorded with principles of good stewardship and took the form of judicious use of donations provided by benefactors. As the Mission to Lepers began to bring about improvements and restructuring to asylums, pleasant surroundings, shady trees, sound accommodation, and good ventilation became desirable conditions that would confer physical and psychological benefits on those living there. At the same time, the architecture of the asylum responded to economic imperatives, in addition to religious and medical aspirations, and asylums moved towards the regeneration of a labor force. Leprosy-affected people were increasingly employed in occupations that contributed to their sustenance and self-sufficiency, symbolically reincorporating the body damaged by leprosy into the economic world of productive relations.
Keyword Leprosy asylum
Agricultural colony
Built environment
Mission to lepers
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Communication and Arts Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 2 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 02 Aug 2012, 13:37:06 EST by Ms Stormy Wehi on behalf of School of Communication and Arts