Leprosy (or Hansen's disease) was a problem in the colonial Pacific. To control the disease, administrations there and elsewhere tried to isolate so-called 'lepers'. After a cure became available from the 1940s, this policy of segregation gave way; and by 2000 the World Health Organization's goal of 'eliminating' leprosy as a global health burden was declared met. Yet leprosy remains a challenge in many parts of the Pacific and the world. In the Pacific, the historiography of leprosy also raises questions. This article compares the extent of the published research and public awareness of the histories of leprosy relating to the Hawaiian island of Molokai and the Fijian island of Makogai. We further note contrasts between colonial and postcolonial perceptions of the disease. We scope the recent historiography of leprosy, which provides a context for the new research on leprosy in the southwest Pacific collected here. This new research addresses the themes of community formation in places of isolation and the subjective experiences of those affected by the disease. Finally, we offer readers two messages: the first of connection, the second, of humanity.
|Journal||Journal of Pacific History|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|