The Colour of Disease: Syphilis and Racism in South Africa, 1880-1950


Today AIDS dominates the headlines, but a century ago it was fears of syphilis epidemics. This book looks at how the spread of syphilis was linked to socio-economic transformation as land dispossession, migrancy and urbanization disrupted social networks--factors similarly important in the AIDS crisis. Medical explanations of syphilis and state medical policy were also shaped by contemporary beliefs about race. Doctors drew on ideas from social darwinism, eugenics, and social anthropology to explain the incidence of syphilis among poor whites and Africans, and to define "normal" abnormal sexual behavior for racial groups.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2001


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.