Stephen Snelders Q and A – Leprosy and Colonialism

Posted by Rebecca Mortimer - Friday, 30 Jun 2017


Stephen Snelders Q and A – Leprosy and Colonialism


What book in this field has inspired you the most?

Inspiration comes from a combination of Roy Porter’s Doing Medical History from Below with Peter Linebaugh’s The London Hanged (and similar studies), applied to the field of colonial medicine.

Did your research take you to any unexpected places?

Yes: to the Surinamese jungle, and to a retreat of ex-Hansen (leprosy) patients.

What did you enjoy the most about writing your book?

Sensing the patterns that evolve from the empirical data and make sense of persons’ activities in the past.

What did you find hardest about writing your book?

The confrontation with the visual deformations of leprosy sufferers, especially when meeting ex-Hansen patients face-to-face. This gives an initial shock that, however, disappears over time.

How did you feel when you saw your first published book?

Strange how a text that has been refined and refined is suddenly ‘solidified’ in a material object.

Why did you choose to publish with MUP?

MUP has now taken over the publication of the Social Histories of Medicine series, a series that is of key importance in my field of research.

Did you approach writing this book differently to any of your previous work?

Yes, I had to adjust myself to the conventions of an academic style in a language that is not my own.

Have you had time to think about your next research project yet? What are you working on now?

I am now working on a history of drug trafficking in The Netherlands and its global impact in the 20th century.




Leprosy and colonialism by Stephen Snelders is available now! Visit the Social Histories of Medicine series page, here.

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