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Barbed-Wire ImperialismBritain's Empire of Camps, 1876-1903$
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Aidan Forth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293960

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293960.001.0001

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“A Source of Horror and Dread”

“A Source of Horror and Dread”

Plague Camps in India and South Africa, 1896–1901

(p.74) Chapter 3 “A Source of Horror and Dread”
Barbed-Wire Imperialism

Aidan Forth

University of California Press

Plague infected India in 1896 and spread across the empire due to the transportation and communication networks fostered by imperial trade and military aggression. As microbes travelled to new imperial outposts, so did British medical experts like William Simpson, who imported Indian technologies of disease control to South Africa. Inspections conducted at train stations identified disease carriers and detained them in segregation camps. In Bombay and other cities, urban cleansing campaigns by military and police forces systematically rounded up “suspects” and evacuated them to suburban camps. The “war against plague” depended on coercion and an unprecedented set of interventions into the health and welfare of colonial populations. It reflected tangible medical concerns but also operated according to the cultural proclivities of late-Victorian empire: discourses of race and class along with anxieties about security facilitated encampment as much as scientific analysis or the precepts of germ theory.

Keywords:   Plague, Disease control, Medical experts, Germ theory, Urban cleansing, Segregation camp, Evacuation, Coercion

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