Colonialism and Disease in Anna Maria Falconbridge’s Two Voyages to Sierra Leone

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Anna Maria Falconbridge’s 1794 travel journal Two Voyages to Sierra Leone documents Britain’s resettlement of formerly enslaved people to Sierra Leone and the endemic disease and high rates of mortality that beset the colony. This essay argues that Falconbridge employs the authority of medical discourse to criticize British colonialism in West Africa. Advocating for disease prevention, she adopts medical practices to regulate illness and ensure the settlement’s success. However, she opposes the colonial initiative after an epidemic kills nearly half the settlers and endangers her own life. Locating the source of disease in colonial mismanagement and racism, she confronts abolitionists in England and questions the legitimacy of their project. By focusing on Falconbridge’s account of disease in Sierra Leone, this essay shifts attention away from formal networks of colonial knowledge to the more informal practice of recording done by women. Her work is significant for revealing women’s role in debates on abolition and resettlement and providing an alternative perspective on colonialism in the early Atlantic world.