"Preaching the Gospel of Vaccination": Smallpox Vaccination and Imperial Instabilities in the Cape Colony, 1880-1905

Thumbnail Image
Brig, Kristin Victoria
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
In the late nineteenth-century Cape Colony, smallpox vaccination both destabilized the western medical community and became a vehicle through which Cape doctors and politicians influenced movements in the Boer Republics. Indigenous populations adapted vaccination to traditional healing methods, causing district surgeons to rely on the Cape government to further fund western medical efforts; however, the Cape government failed to respond in the way these surgeons hoped, resulting in a destabilized relationship between local and state Cape authorities. At the same time, Cape authorities employed a new distinctly South African vaccination legislation to influence public health policies in the Transvaal and Orange Free State, and thus transformed the Cape’s role into a colonizing state in southern Africa. Evidence derives from the Cape government’s administrative documents, the Colonial Office Records, and the South African Medical Journal, among other sources.