Decolonizing “La Brousse

Rural Medicine and Colonial Authority in Cameroon

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Sarah C. Runcie Muhlenberg College, USA

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This article examines French responses to transnational influences on medical education and rural health in Cameroon in the era of decolonization. As international organizations became increasingly involved in Cameroon in the postwar period, French military doctors claimed authority through specific expertise on medicine in the African “bush.” After Cameroon became independent, however, the building of new medical school became a focus of French anxieties about maintaining power in new African institutions of technical expertise and knowledge production. While scholars have begun to foreground the international context of Franco-African relations after independence, this article reveals how the distinct politics of Cameroon's decolonization, growing out of its history as a United Nations (UN) trust territory, shaped French approaches to medical institutions there. Moreover, negotiations over the future of rural medicine in Cameroon highlighted the ways in which the approaches championed by French doctors relied on colonial authority itself.

Contributor Notes

Sarah C. Runcie is Assistant Professor of African History at Muhlenberg College. Her current research focuses on decolonization, international health programs, and public health administration in Cameroon. Email:

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