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The Legacy of Colonial Medicine in Central Africa

February 26, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Between 1921 and 1956, French colonial governments organized medical campaigns to treat and prevent sleeping sickness. Villagers were forcibly examined and injected with medications with severe, sometimes fatal, side effects. This talk looks into thirty years of digital archival records to document the locations of campaign visits at a granular geographic level for five central African countries. Dr. Lowes finds that greater historical exposure to the campaigns reduces trust in medicine – measured by willingness to consent to a free, non-invasive blood test. The resulting mistrust is specific to the medical sector. She examines relevance for present day health initiatives, finding that World Bank projects in the health sector are less successful in areas with greater exposure to the campaigns.

Sara is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the at the Stanford King Center on Global Development from June 2019. She will join University of California, San Diego as an Assistant Professor of Economics in July 2020. She graduated from Harvard University in May 2017 with a Ph.D. from the Political Economy and Government program (Economics track). She is a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar with the Institutions, Organizations & Growth research program. She is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Her research interests are at the intersection of development economics, political economy, and economic history. Many of her on-going projects are in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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