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Arch Hellen Med, 31(1), January-February 2014, 85-96


Colonialism and smallpox in the Ionian Islands during the "British protection":
The case of vaccination in Corfu (1852)

C. Dimopoulou,1 C. Tsiamis,2 M. Mandyla-Kousouni,1 E. Poulakou-Rebelakou,2 D. Anoyatis -Pelé1
1Section of Historical Demography, Faculty of History, Ionian University of Corfu, Corfu,
2Section of History of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Medical School, Athens, Greece

This paper presents the British colonial health policy concerning the case of vaccination against smallpox in the Ionian Islands (1815−1864). The study was based on the registers of the Executive Police Archives during the mass vaccination which was conducted in Corfu in 1852. The archival material provides information about the number of people vaccinated and their sex, age and nationality, the year of the last vaccination and the last year that people "had smallpox". One of the most important items of information is if the vaccinated people had "had smallpox" during the most recent epidemic of smallpox. The findings of the analysis of the registers were combined with the concurrent data of the anti-British press about the extensive epidemic in Corfu in 1852. The unedited archival material and the final findings provide a new dimension to the medical and historical data generally known until now, showing the unprecedented negligence and inefficiency of the health model in that era, which was applied as a part of the British colonial policy.

Key words: Colonialism, Demography, Ionian Islands, Public health, Smallpox, Vaccination.

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