1st Edition

Rural Disease Knowledge Anthropological and Historical Perspectives

    272 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Rural Disease Knowledge examines the ways in which knowledge of rural spaces and environments, on the one hand, and infectious diseases, on the other, have become inter-constituted since the late nineteenth century. With contributions by leading anthropologists and historians of medicine, it examines the epistemic co-constitution of the rural and of infectious diseases. Ranging from Brazil, Argentina and Colombia to Java, Tanzania and Britain, the chapters cover diverse geographies, timelines and diseases, including plague, brucellosis, leishmaniasis, yaws, yellow fever, sleeping sickness and Chagas disease. The book considers how human interactions with infectious diseases have impacted ways of knowing and acting on rural spaces and environments, and in turn how human interactions with rural spaces and environments have impacted ways of knowing and acting against infectious diseases. It reflects on how the rural has been configured either as a space of health or sickness over the centuries and around the globe, the role of rural landscapes in the epistemic emergence of microbiology and tropical medicine, and the interaction with global processes such as European imperialism, the emergence of capitalism, and post-colonial nation-building projects. The studies engage with current debates on decolonizing knowledge and highlight how local disease knowledge has troubled and unsettled hegemonic medical perspectives and created new ways of understanding the relation between diseases and rural spaces and environments. The volume will be of particular interest to scholars of medical anthropology, global health, and history of medicine.

    1. Introduction: The Scales, Subjects and Politics of Rural Disease Knowledge

    Matheus Alves Duarte da Silva and Christos Lynteris

    2. Demarcating the “Field” of Field Epidemiology in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Britain

    Jacob Steere-Williams

    3. Extracting Blood, Flies, and Ideas: David and Mary Bruce, Vernacular Experts, and Unakane in Rural Zululand c. 1880s-1900s

    Jules Skotnes-Brown

    4. Yaws: Medicine and Propaganda in Rural Java, 1911-1942

    Maurits Bastian Meerwijk

    5. Salvador Mazza and Chagas Disease in Argentina: The Epistemic and Political Reshaping of a Controversial Rural Disease, 1926-1946

    Juan Pablo Zabala

    6. The Epidemiological and Epistemic Emergence of “Rural Plague” in Argentina

    Christos Lynteris

    7. From the City to the Jungle: Yellow Fever and the Remaking of Alliances Among Living Things

    Gregg Mitman

    8. An International Crossroads: Plague, Rural Knowledge, and Epidemiological Reasoning in the Brazilian Backlands (1939-1965)

    Matheus Alves Duarte da Silva

    9. Unnecessary Adversaries amidst War: Biomedical and Non-Biomedical Approaches to Leishmaniasis in Rural Colombia

    Lina Beatriz Pinto-Garcia

    10. Local Knowledge, Cattle-Human Relations and Disease Perceptions of the Agropastoralists in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

    Caroline Mwihaki Mburu and Kathrin Heitz-Tokpa



    Matheus Alves Duarte da Silva is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of St Andrews, UK. His research focuses on the global history of microbiology, tropical medicine and disease ecology.

     Christos Lynteris is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of St Andrews, UK.  His research focuses on the anthropological and historical study of zoonotic diseases, epizootics and epidemics.