Book ID: CBB398966453

Kingdom of the sick: a history of leprosy and Japan (2019)


Burns, Susan L. (Author)

University of Hawaiʻi Press

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: viii + 334
Language: English

In this groundbreaking work, Susan L. Burns examines the history of leprosy in Japan from medieval times until the present. At the center of Kingdom of the Sick is the rise of Japan's system of national leprosy sanitaria, which today continue to house more than 1,500 former patients, many of whom have spent five or more decades within them. Burns argues that long before the modern Japanese government began to define a policy toward leprosy, the disease was already profoundly marked by ethical and political concerns and associated with sin, pollution, heredity, and outcast status. Beginning in the 1870s, new anxieties about race and civilization that emanated from a variety of civic actors, including journalists, doctors, patent medicine producers, and Christian missionaries transformed leprosy into a national issue. After 1900, a clamor of voices called for the quarantine of all sufferers of the disease, and in the decades that followed bureaucrats, politicians, physicians, journalists, local communities, and leprosy sufferers themselves grappled with the place of the biologically vulnerable within the body politic. At stake in this "citizenship project" were still evolving conceptions of individual rights, government responsibility for social welfare, and the delicate balance between care and control. Refusing to treat leprosy patients as simply victims of state power, Burns recovers their voices in the debates that surrounded the most controversial aspects of sanitarium policy, including the use of sterilization, segregation, and the continuation of confinement long after leprosy had become a curable disease. Richly documented with both visual and textual sources and interweaving medical, political, social, and cultural history, Kingdom of the Sick tells an important story for readers interested in Japan, the history of medicine and public health, social welfare, gender and sexuality, and human rights.

Reviewed By

Review Jae-Hyung Kim (2021) Review of "Kingdom of the sick: a history of leprosy and Japan". East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (pp. 266-269). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Löwy, Illana
Krige, John G.
Rosenkrantz, Barbara Gutmann
Berridge, Virginia
Palladino, Paolo
Gaudillière, Jean-Paul
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Social History of Medicine
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Johns Hopkins University Press
Oxford University Press
Office for Official Publications of the European Communities
Cambridge University Press
Hong Kong University Press
University of Toronto Press
Disease and diseases
Public policy
Public health
Down, John Langdon Haydon
Penna, Belisário
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
21st century
South America
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.)

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