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An Intersectional Look at the 1942 Mosquito Invasion

The interconnectedness of war, disease, and agriculture in the 1942 mosquito invasion is interesting, and extremely relevant as we have looked a lot at the importance of intersectionality in this course. In his article titled, “Rule of Experts”, Timothy Mitchell talks about a mixing of the natural and social worlds that contributed to this disaster. First was the creation of a dam, which was beneficial agriculturally and demonstrated the strength and progressiveness of a state; however, it was also an ideal breeding place for mosquitoes carrying malaria. The production of synthetic chemicals used as fertilizer helped agriculture flourish; yet fertilizer plants were also used to manufacture explosives.

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A health worker inspecting a village pool for Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, Egypt

Because of our group’s topic on violence, I am particularly interested in the effect the war had on the epidemic. Because of globalization and the major flow of people during the conflict (due to trade, migration, and conflict), it was much easier for mosquitoes to travel, transporting malaria with them (both by airplane and boat). The war also decreased the supply of synthetic fertilizer, severely harming agriculture and making people more at risk of contracting a parasite. The war was also directly correlated to malnutrition.

Similar to the effect of the Egyptian conflict in the malaria epidemic, was the effect of World War I in the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Outbreaks of the flu spread through Europe, Africa, North America, Asia, Brazil, and the South Pacific via human carriers. The rapid diffusion of men during the war who were in the army and on ships helped the flu to spread quickly and broadly. Fortunately, modern technology today, like vaccines and antibiotics have helped solve this problem to a certain extent. But it is still important to look at the possibly detrimental effects of globalization in the spread of disease, especially during times of war when flows of people often increase dramatically.

Sources:

Billings, Molly. “The 1918 Influenza Pandemic.” Stanford Edu. Feb. 2005. Web. 04 Mar. 2012. <http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/&gt;.
Mitchell, Timothy. “Rule of Experts.” University of California Press (2002).
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