Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Notes from the Leper Asylum - Part I

Yes, I am a leper.  Or at least I spend the majority of my time here in Barbados in a former leper asylum.

The Barbadian National Archives are located at UWI's Cave Hill campus here in Barbados.  The exact location is adjacent to the postgraduate studies building down the hill from the main campus in what is called the Lazaretto.

I knew the archives were at the Lazaretto even before coming here and if I knew what the term meant, I wouldn't have had such a shock about it being a leper asylum.  I should've consulted the trusted and all-knowing wikipedia:

"A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. Until 1908, lazarets were also used for disinfecting postal items, usually by fumigation.[1] A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the Beggar."

So there I was sitting in the archives going through some old stuff catching a chill from the not-so-green friendly high powered a/c, and come across a document saying that the Lazeratto was a former leper asylum.

Then I realized that it's kind of ironic that the archives are housed in a former leper asylum and that I spend most of my time there.

Outside of the cool factor because it is a very historic and old building, it's fitting that there are some similarities between lepers and academics.  Here are a few:

- Both on the margins of society
- Ostracized for being different
- Can only hang out with their own kind
- Socially inept
- Think they are the ones that are normal (maybe that one should be for a mental institute)

So when I make my way in the morning for a long day at the leper asylum - sorry - archives, I remind myself that at least they let me out at closing time.  Real lepers didn't have that choice.

Like lepers, socially retarded academics have feelings too.


  1. Good thing you consulted the trusted and all-knowing wikipedia for information on a lazaretto or lazaret! Now you are one well informed leper - i mean researcher.

  2. LoL @ Cara.

    Bonus to being an academic rather than a leper - you choose academia. Leprosy chooses you.

  3. I've got no problem being a leper. None at all.