The panel proposes to examine the history of Hansen’s disease (HD) in selected Southeast Asian countries during the late colonial period (19th and 20th centuries). The history of medicine and disease is a growing field of inquiry in Southeast Asian studies. The initiatives of the History of Medicine in Southeast Asia, for instance, have helped develop this multidisciplinary field, which has focused on malaria, cholera, influenza, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever. Academic interest in the history of HD, however, seems less developed perhaps because the epidemiological episodes of other diseases are significantly higher.
The interest in HD as a comparatively recent undertaking in the early twentieth century owes its imperative to religious, public health, and humanitarian considerations. Nevertheless, on a limited scale and on a country basis, studies on HD from a social science perspective are increasing. The panel seeks to contribute to the scholarly development of the subject in the Southeast Asian region.