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Tropical Visions in an Age of Empire$
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Felix Driver and Luciana Martins

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226164717

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226164700.001.0001

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Returning Fears: Tropical Disease and the Metropolis

Returning Fears: Tropical Disease and the Metropolis

(p.175) 10 Returning Fears: Tropical Disease and the Metropolis
Tropical Visions in an Age of Empire

Rod Edmond

University of Chicago Press

This chapter emphasis on the complex and entangled geographies of so-called tropical diseases during the period under discussion in this book, on both the global and the metropolitan scales. The new science of tropical medicine is understood as a fraught project, seeking to protect European people and European space from the degenerative effects of tropicality, both within the tropics and within the temperate zone. Leprosy is treated here as the exemplary disease of tropicality not because it is in any way limited to the tropics but precisely because of its uncomfortable positioning within the discourse of “tropical medicine” that was designed to contain it. The focus in this chapter is on disease and degeneration, with leprosy providing the particular example. The underlying argument will be the impossibility of understanding what was meant by the tropics at this time without also taking account of the national self-constructions of the period.

Keywords:   tropical disease, metropolis, leprosy, medicine, temperate zone

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