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Vol 8 No 2: Medical Testing, Diagnosis and Value

Diagnosing Diabetes, Diagnosing Colonialism: An Ethnography of the Classification and Counting of a Senegalese Metabolic Disease

July 1, 2020
August 18, 2021


This article explores the top-down production of the statistics frequently circulated in global health. These data must first originate in a place like the public hospital in Saint-Louis, Senegal, in doctor’s offices and laboratories and medical archives. At their root, these data are an accumulation of individual bodies, experiences, and intimate diagnostic moments. This aggregation turns the afflicted into categories and statistical regimes that shape a global health understanding of diabetes specifically, and noncommunicable diseases broadly. This article explores the individual diabetes diagnostic moment itself and the politics of the current nosology of Type 1 and Type 2, a seemingly neutral dichotomy that belies colonial relationships between Senegal, slavery, sugar production and consumption, and the effects these relationships have on contemporary conceptions of diabetes diagnosis in Senegal and global health.