ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Rohan Deb RoySubscribe to Rohan Deb Roy

'An Awful, Unseen Visitant': The Return of Burdwan Fever

This essay does not probe why there was a malarial epidemic in Bengal in the 19th century, instead it explores how a series of dispersed and dissimilar debilities came to be represented as a single, continuous epidemic of malaria in Bengal and beyond for over most of the 19th century. The making of the Burdwan fever epidemic can hardly be ascribed to conveniently traceable intentions or a straightforward series of causes. The history of the unfolding of the epidemic hints at a "game of relationships".

Mal-areas of Health

The urge to define malaria in the third quarter of the 19th century created a lot of conflicting theories and understandings of that disease. However, the practising physicians could accommodate these conflicting explanations as different probable attributes of that mysterious disease rather than necessarily discarding one theory in favour of another. Through the acts of narrating and reporting clinical diagnostic encounters in regularly published and extensively circulated medical journals, these different connotations of malaria acquired a certain currency, not least legitimacy.

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