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Quinine, mosquitoes and empire: reassembling malaria in British India, 1890-1910

Deb Roy, R. (2013) Quinine, mosquitoes and empire: reassembling malaria in British India, 1890-1910. South Asian History and Culture, 4 (1). pp. 65-86. ISSN 1947-2501

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/19472498.2012.750457


The drug quinine figured as an object of enforced consumption in British India between the late 1890s and the 1910s, when the corresponding diagnostic category malaria itself was redefined as a mosquito-borne fever disease. This article details an overlapping milieu in which quinine, mosquitoes and malaria emerged as intrinsic components of shared and symbiotic histories. It combines insights from new imperial histories, constructivism in the histories of medicine and literature about non-humans in science studies to examine the ways in which histories of insects, drugs, disease and empire interacted and shaped one another. Firstly, it locates the production of historical intimacies between quinine, malaria and mosquitoes within the exigencies and apparatuses of imperial rule. In so doing, it explores the intersections between the worlds of colonial governance, medical knowledge, vernacular markets and pharmaceutical business. Secondly, it outlines ways to narrate characteristics and enabling properties of non-humans (such as quinines and mosquitoes) while retaining a constructivist critique of scientism and empire. Thirdly, it shows how empire itself was reshaped and reinforced while occasioning the proliferation of categories and entities like malaria, quinine and mosquitoes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:48955
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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