(P02AB) A Tropical Disease Between Tokyo and Java - Intertwining Histories of Malaria


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 1
Wed 09:00-10:30 K10 | 3.05

Part 2

Session 2
Wed 11:00-12:30 K10 | 3.05



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Malaria is a deadly disease which has long plagued Southeast Asia. While some areas remain affected, the 20th century witnessed amazing progress in understanding and finding ways to combat Malaria, through medicine, education, and by targeting the transmitting mosquitos. Indonesia played a critical part in this history, not just because its many victims, but also due to the role of researchers like Swellengrebel, and Java’s role as the primary source of cinchona bark out of which quinine was produced.

The histories of Malaria are not merely the scientific advances of Dutch and Indonesian researchers. Such an important disease naturally produced a number of interlaced histories, but which have rarely been explored, and never brought together. The Cinchona bark produced in Java was important not merely for quinine, but for health tonics and other
medicines, and it was also a part of Japan’s global wartime international relations. Medicines produced during the colonial period and during the wartime period changed—even the variety and dosages of quinine—changes which potentially have important connections to medical supply, distribution, wartime priorities, as well as new public health strategies. Medicine and Javanese quinine was even a part of Japanese “soft-culture” literary publishing, while and
medical education in territories under its control experienced great changes. Too much remains unknown—even the importance of mosquito coils—but with the president of Kincho dying in a plane crash in Singapore in late 1942, we can be sure that “Obat Njamoek Tjap Ajam” was a part of both public health and popular culture.

Centering on Indonesia, this panel will bring together discussions of medical and more “social” aspects of Malaria around the 1940s to deepen our knowledge of the interactions between medicine and society.