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James Africanus Beale Horton (1835–1883) – A West African Army Doctor’s Strategies of Self-Legitimisation

In: Gesnerus
Author: Andrea Graf
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Open Access

This article examines the interconnections between medical science and politics on the eve of the advent of colonial rule on the West African coast by means of the example of James Africanus Beale Horton (1835–1883), one of the first West Africans to receive medical training in Britain and to serve as a medical officer in the British Army. As he is known today as a political author, Horton’s scientific work has hitherto been largely neglected in the historiography. His work as a medical officer and his research as an ambitious medical scientist allowed him to develop elaborate proposals for hygiene policy reforms. Furthermore, angered by emerging European race theories, he set out to refute prejudices against Africans and to draft self-governing West African states. This article seeks to demonstrate how scientific research helped a mid-nineteenth-century African scholar legitimise himself as an authoritative doctor and situate himself within European political and academic paradigms.

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