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Jonathan Sadowsky, “Sickness and Symptoms as Cultural Capacities in Colonial Ideology”: According to the WHO, depression is the greatest contributor to the global health burden. The change is sometimes stark. In Africa, colonial Western observers believed that depression was rare or nonexistent. In the early independence period, some found rates comparable to those in the West. Some are now finding depression to be more prevalent in Africa than in the West. The diagnosis rates cannot be taken at face value because of culturally varying norms of appropriate affect and illness. Cultural difference is not the only reason that counting and comparing depression rates is challenging. Early studies finding low rates in Africa were moored in colonial ideology. This ideology held that depression was not just an illness but a cultural capacity of developed civilizations. Margaret Field and Frantz Fanon, working in vastly different contexts with different theoretical backgrounds, had surprising affinities, showing that alternative views of depression in Africa were possible.

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