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Week 18: Tropical Medicine

With the spread of the germ theory of disease causation in the second half of the nineteenth century, new developments in bacteriology spurred the creation of ‘tropical medicine’ as a discipline focused on the diseases of warm climates. This specialisation was particularly associated with the pioneering work of Patrick Manson (1844-1922), who identified mosquitos as a vector of disease, and founded the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1899. Yet while research in tropical medicine could be undertaken in Europe, the tropics and subtropics remained key sites of discovery and innovation. They also provided testing grounds for new methods of prevention and treatment, precipitating further divides between Western medical practice and colonial subjects in the twentieth century.


Discussion Questions:

-How did the advent of ‘tropical medicine’ as a modern discipline displace traditional ideas about disease, race and climate?

-Who were the primary beneficiaries of tropical medicine?

-To what extent was the new ‘tropical medicine’ a tool of empire?

-How did tropical medicine transform medical practice in tropical climates?


Background Reading:

Pratik Chakrabarti, Medicine and Empire, 1600-1960 (Basingstoke, 2014), ‘Ch. 8: Imperialism and Tropical Medicine,’ pp.141-163

Required Readings:

*Alison Bashford, ‘Is White Australia Possible? Race, Colonialism and Tropical Medicine,’ Ethnic and Racial Studies 23 (2000), pp.248-271 [e-journal]

**Rohan Deb Roy, 'Quinine, mosquitoes and empire: reassembling malaria in British India, 1890–1910,' South Asian History 4 (2013), pp.65-86 [e-journal]

**Nancy Leys Stepan, Picturing Tropical Nature (London, 2001), ‘Ch. 5: The New Tropical Pathology,’ pp.149-179 [extracts]

*Michael Worboys, ‘The Emergence of Tropical Medicine: A Study in the Establishment of a Scientific Speciality,’ in Gerard Lemaine (ed), Perspectives on the Emergence of Scientific Disciplines (The Hague, 1976), 76-98. [e-book]

Further Readings:

Warwick Anderson, ‘Immunities of Empire: Race, Disease, and the New Tropical Medicine,’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine 70 (1996), 94-118 [e-journal]

___________, ‘Germs, Malaria and the Invention of Mansonian Tropical Medicine: From ‘Diseases in the Tropics’ to ‘Tropical Diseases,’ in David Arnold (ed.), Warm Climates and Western Medicine: The Emergence of Tropical Medicine, 1500-1900 (Amsterdam, 1996), pp.181-207

___________, Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines (Durham, 2006)

David Arnold (ed.), Warm Climates and Western Medicine: The Emergence of Tropical Medicine, 1500-1900 (Amsterdam, 1996)

Pratik Chakrabarti, Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics (Suffolk, 2013) [e-book]

Andrew Cunningham, ‘Transforming the Plague: The Laboratory and the Identity of Infectious Disease’, in Andrew Cunningham and Perry Williams (eds), The Laboratory Revolution in Medicine (Cambridge, 1992), 209–44 [extracts]

Philip D. Curtin, The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850, Vol II (Madison, 1964), ‘Ch.14: Tropical Medicine and the Victory of Empiricism,’pp.343-362.

Philip D. Curtin, Death by Migration: Europe’s Encounter with the Tropical World in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989), ‘Ch.5: The Revolution in Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,’pp.104-130. [e-book]

Rohan Deb Roy, Malarial Subjects: Empire, Medicine and Non-Humans in British India, 1820-1909 (Cambridge, 2017)

Douglas M. Haynes, Imperial Medicine: Patrick Manson and the Conquest of Tropical Disease, 1844-1923 (Philadelphia, 2001) [e-book]

Mark Harrison, ‘Tropical Medicine in Nineteenth-Century India,’ British Journal for the History of Science 25 (1992), 299-318. [e-journal]

Michael A. Osborne, The Emergene of Tropical Medicine in France (Chicago, 2014) [e-book]

Suzanne Parry, ‘Tropical Medicine and Colonial Identity in Northern Australia,’ in Bridie Andrews and Marie P. Sutphen (eds.), Medicine and Colonial Identity (New York, 2003), pp. 103-124.

Julyan G. Peard, Race, Place, and Medicine: The Idea of the Tropics in Nineteenth-Century Brazilian Medicine (Durham, 1999)

Michael Warboys, ‘Manson, Ross and Colonial Medical Policy: Tropical Medicine in London and Liverpool, 1899-1914,’ in Roy MacLeod and Milton Lewis (eds.), Disease, Medicine and Empire: Perspectives on Western Medicine and the Experience of European Expansion (New York, 1988), pp.21-37