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Sex and Control

Venereal Disease, Colonial Physicians, and Indigenous Agency in German Colonialism, 1884-1914

Daniel J. Walther

198 pages, 18 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-591-2 $80.00/£57.00 Hb Published (March 2015)

eISBN 978-1-78238-592-9 eBook

Hb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors

“…this study raises important questions about cross-colonial communication and broader patterns of modern European imperialism. In particular, it implicitly suggests the ways in which surgeons functioned as transnational actors, communicating ideas and approaches to the control of venereal disease within and across empires.” · Social History of Medicine

“The author…explains venereal diseases in the former German Imperial colonies in Africa, the Pacific, and Kiautschou/China as an epidemiological, but most of all, cultural and social phenomenon….A detailed study on venereal diseases and their political, social, cultural, and of course medical impact was missing so far. Walther adds it to colonial historiography.” · Wolfgang U. Eckart, University of Heidelberg

“…this is a thoroughly researched and original work which makes a fine contribution to its field. There has been a lot of interest recently in histories of empire and German history in the Wilhelmine period, and this is another excellent contribution to that field.” · Peter Monteath, Flinders University

In responding to the perceived threat posed by venereal diseases in Germany’s colonies, doctors took a biopolitical approach that employed medical and bourgeois discourses of modernization, health, productivity, and morality. Their goal was to change the behavior of targeted groups, or at least to isolate infected individuals from the healthy population. However, the Africans, Pacific Islanders, and Asians they administered to were not passive recipients of these strategies. Rather, their behavior strongly influenced the efficacy and nature of these public health measures. While an apparent degree of compliance was achieved, over time physicians increasingly relied on disciplinary measures beyond what was possible in Germany in order to enforce their policies. Ultimately, through their discourses and actions they contributed to the justification for and the maintenance of German colonialism.

Daniel J. Walther is the Gerald R. Kleinfeld Distinguished Professor of German History at Wartburg College, where he teaches modern European and world history.  He is the author of Creating Germans Abroad: Cultural Policies and National Identity in Namibia (Ohio UP, 2002) and several articles on the German experience in Namibia and on German colonialism.  He has been a Fulbright Fellow, a Max Kade Fellow, a DAAD Faculty Researcher, and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

Series: Volume 36, Monographs in German History
Subject: Colonialism
Area: Africa Asia-Pacific

LC: RA644.V4 W35 2015

BISAC: POL045000 POLITICAL SCIENCE/Colonialism & Post-Colonialism; MED039000 MEDICAL/History; HIS037030 HISTORY/Modern/General

BIC: HBTQ Colonialism & imperialism; MBX History of medicine


List of Tables


Chapter 1. Doctors, Prostitution and Venereal Disease in Germany

Part I: Male Sexuality and Prostitution in the Overseas Territories

Chapter 2. Male Colonial Sexuality
Chapter 3. Prostitution in Germany’s Colonies

Part II: Venereal Diseases in the Colonial Context

Chapter 4. The Threat of VD
Chapter 5. Assessing the Threat Statistically
Chapter 6. Racial Categories, VD and the Colonial Order

Part III: Fighting Venereal Diseases in the Colonies

Chapter 7. Preventative Measures
Chapter 8. Disciplining the Body
Chapter 9. Treating the Body
Chapter 10. Assessing the Surveillance
Chapter 11. Perceived Ongoing Challenges




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