“Laying out a Model Village”: George Gushue-Taylor and Missionary Leprosy Work in Colonial Taiwan



This paper provides a historical account of the Canadian medical missionary Dr George Gushue-Taylor’s career in Taiwan from 1925 to1940. At a time when the Japanese colonial government was not interested in a comprehensive anti-leprosy programme, Dr Gushue-Taylor’s work at the leprosy dispensary at MacKay Memorial Hospital and his founding and management of the Happy Mount Leprosy Colony built up his own network of medical and public health care. The ‘model village’ that Gushue-Taylor introduced mainly from the British and American colonial experiences did not only make possible the transmission of modern medical knowledge and practice, but also introduced modern western civilization, with its specific set of social, cultural, and moral values. The way in which the Leprosy Colony operated however did not run exactly according to the original plan. The colony was subject to continuous modifications and adaptations. In addition, the introduction of a utopian community failed to replicate the ethics of work as well as a programmed mode of living that the missionary worker envisaged. It is argued that Gushue-Taylor’s work and, not less importantly, similar contemporary public health endeavours can only be understood when put in a context broader than a nation-centred history of science and medicine.