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'Decolonization, development and disease: a social history of malaria in Sri Lanka' by Kalinga Tudor Silva (Orient Black Swan, 2014)

Author:

Laksiri Fernando

Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, LK
About Laksiri
Former senior professor in Political Science and Public Policy
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Abstract

‘Disease’ is not merely a medical issue; it is a social phenomenon intercepted by power, politics, political economy, culture, language, religion and historical forces, not to speak of ecology or geography. This is the main perspective of Kalinga Tudor Silva’s path breaking study on A social history of malaria in Sri Lanka, published by Orient Black Swan in 2014.The argument has a Foucauldian connotation after Michel Foucault’s much famed study Madness and civilization (1967). Spanning into 258 pages with tightly knit and logically ordered seven chapters, the book is an in-depth study of the malaria epidemic in Sri Lanka for over 80 years from early 1930s to the present day, both covering the colonial and postcolonial dimensions of this deadly disease and its socio-economic and political ramifications. This intensive analysis, following the best traditions of research methodologies of interdisciplinary sociology, places the in-depth empirical investigations and material (18 tables, 7 figures and 9 maps), including its field research, within a universally acceptable theoretical and a historical framework for any discerning reader to understand the main theses or the respective arguments in a logical manner. Although not completely free from controversy or debate, the author appears to counter or question the tropical medicine thesis that malaria is a permanent ‘tropical disease with a firm foundation in a fixed tropical environment.’ Instead, the author in his own words highlights the “significance of human interventions, such as social and environmental changes brought about by plantation development under colonialism and economic development, migration and war under postcolonial regimes in the transmission and control of epidemic malaria in particular” in the case of Sri Lanka.
How to Cite: Fernando, L., (2015). 'Decolonization, development and disease: a social history of malaria in Sri Lanka' by Kalinga Tudor Silva (Orient Black Swan, 2014). Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences. 37(1-2), pp.41–45. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljss.v37i1-2.7377
Published on 03 Jul 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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