Too often, the history of science in European empires is told solely as the story of how Europeans applied ‘modern’ science to ‘primitive’ environments. It is a story of the goals, actions, and outcomes, good or bad, of European efforts to order, control and exploit the territories that came under their domain. In other words, it is a history about colonized people and places but rarely of colonized people and places. To the extent that indigenous actors are integrated into histories of colonial science, it is usually either as enthusiastic converts to European knowledge systems1 or, following Frantz Fanon, as quintessential resisters of alien rule and the knowledge regimes that sustained it.2 A small, but growing, body of literature is recognizing the important role that non-Europeans played in developing and interpreting scientific knowledge in European empires. As Kapil Raj has noted, the time has come to move away from viewing European science and indigenous knowledge systems as diametrically opposed constructions whereby Europeans either imposed European science on ‘unscientific’ populations or appropriated indigenous knowledge and put it to ‘scientific’ use. Rather it is important to see colonial settings as ‘contact zones’ in an ‘emerging world order of knowledge’ that is not, and never was, wholly European.3 By examining the work of Thomas Adeoye Lambo (1923–2004), Nigeria’s first European trained psychiatrist of indigenous background, this chapter argues that a more comprehensive understanding of the complex negotiations involved in producing, circulating and implementing scientific knowledge can be obtained by recognizing the active, purposeful and engaged contributions that non-European scientists have made to imperial and global scientific networks.
- Mental Illness
- Indigenous Knowledge System
- Colonial Setting
- Lunatic Asylum
- Paranoid Psychosis
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See, for example, George Basalla, ‘The Spread of Western Science’, Science 15 (1967), 611–21, which provides a model that did for science studies what modernization theory did for development studies. Although Basalla’s model has been roundly criticized as oversimplified and deterministic by historians of science, some of its basic tenets are still very discernible in mainstream science studies. For example, David Wade Chambers and Richard Gillespie, ‘Locality in the History of Science: Colonial Science, Technoscience, and Indigenous Knowledge’, Osiris 2 (2001), 221–40, critiques Basalla for his failure to recognize that negotiations of western science with indigenous knowledge systems will be different across space because of local political, economic, and cultural dynamics. The article nevertheless sees ‘western’ science as something very distinct from ‘indigenous knowledge’ and, while it recognizes that indigenous populations appropriate ‘western’ science for specific, local purposes, it does not allow for indigenous actors to contribute to or influence ‘western’ scientific knowledge itself.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Grove Press, 1978).
Kapil Raj, Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650–1900 (Basingstoke, Hamps.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 13.
At least according to Lambo himself. See T. Adeoye Lambo, ‘Further Neuro-psychiatric Observations in Nigeria’, British Medical Journal 2 (1960), 1697.
World Health Organization, Report of the International Pilot Study of Schizophrenia, Vol. I [hereafter IPSS] (Geneva: World Health Organization, 1973).
Femi Oyebode, ‘Obituary: Thomas Adeoye Lambo, O.B.E.’, Psychiatric Bulletin 28 (2004), 469.
For more on the geographies of science, see David N. Livingstone, Putting Science in Its Place (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
Toyin Falola, Development Planning and Decolonization in Nigeria (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1996), p. 87.
Toyin Falola and Matthew M. Heaton, A History of Nigeria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 146–8.
For more on colonial psychiatry as an intellectual endeavor, see Jock McCulloch, Colonial Psychiatry and ‘The African Mind’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Vintage Books, 1965).
J.C. Carothers, The African Mind in Health and Disease: A Study in Ethnopsychiatry (Geneva: World Health Organization, 1953), p. 87.
J.C. Carothers, ‘Frontal Lobe Function and the African’, Journal of Mental Science 97 (1951), 46.
On colonial asylums in African colonies, see Jonathan Sadowsky, Imperial Bedlam: Institutions of Madness in Colonial Southwest Nigeria (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999); Megan Vaughan, Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991), pp. 218–38; Leland V. Bell, Mental and Social Disorder in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Sierra Leone, 1787–1990 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1991); Julie Parle, ‘The Fools on the Hill: The Natal Government Asylum and the Institutionalisation of Insanity in Colonial Natal’, Journal of Natal and Zulu History 19 (2001), 1–40; Lynette Jackson, Surfacing Up: Psychiatry and Social Order in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1908–1968 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005); Richard C. Keller, Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Jean-Michel Begué, ‘French Psychiatry in Algeria (1830–1962): From Colonial to Transcultural’, History of Psychiatry VII (1996), 533–48.
Dr. R. Cunyngham Brown, C.B.E., Report III on the Care and Treatment of Lunatics in the British West African Colonies: Nigeria (Letchworth, UK: Garden City Press, Ltd., 1938), pp. 47, 49–53.
Brown, Report III on the Care and Treatment of Lunatics in the British West African Colonies, pp. 54–5.
J.C. Carothers, ‘A Report on the Psychiatric Services of Nigeria’ (1955) Nigerian National Archives, Ibadan, Nigeria [hereafter NNAI] Ministry of Health files [hereafter MH] 59/S.9, p. 18.
T. Adeoye Lambo, ‘The Role of Cultural Factors in Paranoid Psychosis among the Yoruba Tribe’, Journal of Mental Science 101 (1955), 241.
Joseph M. Hodge, Triumph of the Expert: Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2007), pp. 126–43.
See also, T. Adeoye Lambo, ‘Early Childhood Experience and Adult Personality’, in S.H. Irvine and J.T. Sanders (eds) Cultural Adaptation within Modern Africa (New York: Teachers College Press, 1972); idem., ‘Further Neuropsychiatric Observations’; idem., ‘Malignant Anxiety: A Syndrome Associated with Criminal Conduct in Africans’, Journal of Mental Science 108 (1962), 256–62; idem., ‘Neuropsychiatric Observations in the Western Region of Nigeria’, British Medical Journal 15 (1956), 1388–94; idem., ‘Psychiatric Syndromes Associated with Cerebrovascular Disorders in the African’, Journal of Mental Science 104 (1958), 133–43; idem., ‘Schizophrenic and Borderline States’, in A.V.S. de Reuck and Ruth Porter (eds) Transcultural Psychiatry (Boston: Little Brown, 1965); idem., ‘Socioeconomic Changes in Africa and their Implications for Mental Health’, in Gordon Wolsteholme and Maeve O’Connor (eds) Man in Africa (Boston: Little Brown, 1965); idem., ‘Some Unusual Features of Schizophrenia among Primitive Peoples’, West African Medical Journal 1 (1957), 147–52.
T. Adeoye Lambo, ‘Patterns of Psychiatric Care in Developing African Countries’, in Ari Kiev (ed.) Magic, Faith, and Healing: Studies in Primitive Psychiatry Today (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964), pp. 449–50. For more on Aro Village, see T. Adeoye Lambo, ‘A Form of Social Psychiatry in Africa’, World Mental Health 13 (1960), 190–203; idem., ‘Afuko and Ibarapa’, Lancet 1 (1965), 307–8; idem., ‘The Village of Aro’, Lancet 2 (1964), 513–14; T. Asuni, ‘Aro Hospital in Perspective’, American Journal of Psychiatry 124, No. 6 (1967), 763–70.
T. Adeoye Lambo, ‘Important Areas of Ignorance and Doubt in the Psychology of the African’, in Lalage Bown and Michael Crowder (eds) The Proceedings of the First International Congress of Africanists (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964).
Matthew M. Heaton, ‘Stark Roving Mad: The Repatriation of Nigerian Mental Patients and the Global Construction of Mental Illness, 1906–1960’ (PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 2008).
For more on the construction, expansion, and tensions between networks in the British Empire, see Alan Lester, ‘Imperial Circuits and Networks: Geographies of the British Empire’, History Compass 4,1 (2006), 124–41.
T.A. Lambo (ed.) First Pan-African Psychiatric Conference, Abeokuta, Nigeria (Ibadan: Government Printer, 1961).
Ben Park, The Healers of Aro, 16mm film (New York: United Nations, 1960), cited in Sadowsky, Imperial Bedlam.
Alexander H. Leighton, T. Adeoye Lambo, Charles C. Hughes, Dorothea C. Leighton, Jane M. Murphy, and David B. Macklin, Psychiatric Disorder among the Yoruba (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1963).
Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler (eds) Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 1–56.
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© 2011 Matthew M. Heaton
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Heaton, M.M. (2011). Thomas Adeoye Lambo and the Decolonization of Psychiatry in Nigeria. In: Bennett, B.M., Hodge, J.M. (eds) Science and Empire. Britain and the World. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230320826_13
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