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"A bern da na": medical science in a diamond company in twentieth-century colonial Angola

Ferreira, JF de VP; (2006) "A bern da na": medical science in a diamond company in twentieth-century colonial Angola. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the provision of biomedicine by a colonial diamond company, Diamang, in twentieth-century Portuguese Angola. It attempts to better understand the functioning and complexities of Portuguese Imperialism. It argues that Diamang healthcare services were central in the Portuguese state efforts to respond to international pressures against colonialism and central for the understanding of the empire. The company's health services were autonomous from the state ones and for most of the colonial period provided better healthcare. Diamang's argument that it provided similar healthcare for Westerners and Africans is contradicted by a closer and critical reading of the records. In place was a racial-hierarchical system of care with westerners and their families on top, followed by workers, whilst the bottom position was occupied by the general population. Its mobile campaigns were key elements for the company's health efforts and allow a more intricate understanding of the dynamics and fragmented nature of the Portuguese empire. The use by health-services of anthropometrics for labour recruitment reveals a complex exercise where the result was an increased number of workers, and a constant intake of men unfit for mine work. Closer attention to living and working conditions informs that production costs and labour concerns fashioned mining. It is revealed that diseases killed more workers than accidents and that Diamang did little to prevent these. The role of mine managers in these, and consequently in the workers' health, is also emphasised. The political character of medical studies of workers' health at mines and its value as a negotiation card with the government is also stressed, again reinforcing the political character of healthcare and the colonialism by proxy nature of Diamang.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: "A bern da na": medical science in a diamond company in twentieth-century colonial Angola
Identifier: PQ ETD:593619
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest. Third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis. Images identifying individuals have been redacted or partially redacted to protect their identity.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446280
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