This paper examines Scottish missionary perceptions of African healers, and the relationships between the missionaries and local healers in what is now Northern Malawi during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Analysing the Livingstonia missionary writings from the missionary doctor Walter Elmslie to the popular missionary author Donald Fraser and the amateur anthropologist T. Cullen Young, it is argued that, despite major differences and changes in the missionaries' perceptions regarding African healers, there were also important continuities. The paper also examines in detail the relationships between Elmslie and the family of African healer Kalengo Tembo. It is argued that the careful study of missionary writings, even blatant missionary propaganda, can offer novel insights not only into missionary discourse, but also into the historical interaction between Africans and missionaries in the field of medicine and healing.
Mental health and madness have been challenging topics for historians. The field has been marked by tension between the study of power, expertise and institutional control of insanity, and the study of patient experiences. This collection contributes to the ongoing discussion on how historians encounter mental ‘crises’. It deals with diagnoses, treatments, experiences and institutions largely outside the mainstream historiography of madness – in what might be described as its peripheries and borderlands (from medieval Europe to Cold War Hungary, from the Atlantic slave coasts to Indian princely states, and to the Nordic countries). The chapters highlight many contests and multiple stakeholders involved in dealing with mental suffering, and the importance of religion, lay perceptions and emotions in crises of mind.
Contributors are Jari Eilola, Waltraud Ernst, Anssi Halmesvirta, Markku Hokkanen, Kalle Kananoja, Tuomas Laine-Frigrén, Susanna Niiranen, Anu Rissanen, Kirsi Tuohela, and Jesper Vaczy Kragh.