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Distributed for Museum Tusculanum Press

For the Health of the Enslaved

Slaves, Medicine and Power in the Danish West Indies, 1803-1848

With the abolition of the Danish slave trade in the early nineteenth century, slave health had become a central concern in the Danish West Indies for plantation owners and colonial administrators who were no longer able to replace a population decimated by high mortality rates with slaves from Africa. In For the Health of the Enslaved, Niklas Thode Jensen offers a comprehensive look at the health conditions of the enslaved at that time and how health care policy fueled an ongoing power struggle between planters, administrators, and the enslaved in the waning years of human bondage in the New World.

352 pages | 7 color plates, 3 halftones, 5 maps, 40 tables | 6 3/8 x 9 1/2 | © 2012

History: European History

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“Few scholars have the necessary language skills to explore sugar slavery in the Danish and Dutch West Indies. In For the Health of the Enslaved: Slaves, medicine and power in the Danish West Indies, 1803-1848, Niklas Thode Jensen offers us a rare opportunity to learn about aspects of sugar planting and its impact on the enslaved in St. Croix, the primary sugar island in the Danish West Indies.”

Justin Roberts | Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

“Jensen succeeds in filling a tremendous gap in medical history and Caribbean history—namely, the state of health of the enslaved in the Danish West Indies. . . .[His] fine book will appeal to a variety of readers. Historians of medicine will find an excellent examination of slave health and colonial medicine. Scholars of the Caribbean will welcome this outstanding investigation into the medical world and disease environment of the Danish West Indies. Finally, students of slavery will appreciate Jensen’s investigation into the lives and deaths of enslaved workers in this part of the world.”

Karol K. Weaver | Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction
    Subject and Research Questions
    Methods and Structures
    Hypotheses and Theories
    The Source material
Chapter 2: Context
    Danish, British and French West Indian History, Geography and Ecology
    Demography in West Indian Enslaved Populations
    The Development of Western Medicine and the Health Service on St Croix
    The Medicine of the Enslaved: Obeah and Herbs
Chapter 3: Diseases, Therapies, and Causes of Death
    The Diseases of the Enslaved Workers and the Doctors’ Therapies
    Seasonal Morbidity
    Causes of Death among Enslaved Plantation Workers, 1842–47
    Slave Laws and Health Factors
Chapter 4: Three Case Studies of the Health Policy of the Danish Colonial Administration
    The Puzzle of Nutrition: Requirements, Rations, Crops and Natural Resources
    Smallpox, Inoculation and Vaccination
    Midwives, Obstetrics and Births
Chapter 5: Conclusion
    The Medical World, Morbidity, and Mortality among the Enslaved Workers on St Croix

List of figures, tables and calculations

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