Matthew Daniel Eddy: “The False Theories of Anthropologists”: Race, Climate and the Problem of Health in 19th Century British West Africa
- Date: –15:00
- Location: Engelska parken Rausing Room, House 6
- Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
- Contact person: Hanna Hodacs
Matthew Daniel Eddy, Durham University
In 1868 the black West African scientist and physician Dr James Africanus Beale Horton published a powerful critique of “The False Theories of Anthropologists” that were holding back the advancement of public health in Britain’s African colonies. A native of Sierra Leone and a distinguished graduate of two British medical schools, Horton sought to arrest the alarming ascent of racially biased medical information gathering systems that framed the delivery of public health and wellness for both African and European inhabitants who lived across the 3,000 miles of West African coastline controlled by Britain during the 1860s to the 1880s. He was especially keen to challenge the increasing proliferation of dirty data, that is, incomplete, inaccurate or irrelevant information that obscured the true causes of health and illness in Africa. This paper investigates the historical context that enabled Horton to use his robust knowledge of evolution, climate and statistics to promote health equity within British West Africa and within the global south more generally.