Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Rader

Second Advisor

Dr. John Powers

Third Advisor

Dr. Cliff Fox


This thesis deconstructs the social, ecological, and colonial elements of the 1900-1910 Human African Trypanosomiasis (African Sleeping Sickness) epidemic which affected British Uganda and Belgian Congo. This paper investigates the epidemic’s medical history, and the subsequent social control policies which sought to govern the actions of the indigenous population. In addition, this paper argues that the failure to understand and respect the region’s ecological conditions and local knowledge led to disease outbreaks in epidemic proportions. Retroactive policies sought to inflict western medical practices on a non-western population, which resulted in conflict and unrest in the region. In the Belgian Congo, colonial authorities created a police state in which violence and stringent control measures were used to manage the local population. In Uganda, forced depopulation in infected regions destabilized local economies. This thesis compares and contrasts the methods used in these regions, and investigates the effects of Germ Theory on Sleeping Sickness policy and social perceptions during the colonial period in Africa.


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