© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/156853109X436856 Asian Journal of Social Science 37 (2009) 511–531 brill.nl/ajss Intersecting Discourses on Tropicality and Disease Causation: Representations of Réunion’s Mosquito-borne Epidemics in the Scientiﬁ c Literature Philip Weinstein and Srilata Ravi University of Western Australia Abstract In this paper we examine whether discourses of tropicality were aﬀ ected by paradigm shifts in Western thinking about medicine. If tropicalist thinking reﬂ ects latent Western assumptions about the ‘Other’, tropicalism should persist through major shifts in Western thought. Here we explore whether or not such persistence is evident in representations in the scientiﬁ c literature of mosquito-borne diseases on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion and where discrete epidemics occurred before, during and after a paradigm shift in Western thinking about disease causation. Late in the 19th Century, miasma theory (epidemics caused by unhealthy air) was replaced by microbial theory (epidemics caused by transmission of microbes) as the dominant scientiﬁ c understanding of disease causation. We analyse representations of mosquito-borne epidemics in the contemporaneous scientiﬁ c literature about Réunion for evidence of both tropicalism and a shift in the scientiﬁ c paradigm. In pre-microbial representations, the unhealthy tropical environ- ments thought to
Asian Journal of Social Science – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
Keywords: OTHERING; EPIDEMICS; MOSQUITO; RÉUNION ISLAND; TROPICALITY
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