Histories of Health in Southeast Asia: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century

Histories of Health in Southeast Asia: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century

Histories of Health in Southeast Asia: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century

Histories of Health in Southeast Asia: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Health patterns in Southeast Asia have changed profoundly over the past century. In that period, epidemic and chronic diseases, environmental transformations, and international health institutions have created new connections within the region and the increased interdependence of Southeast Asia with China and India. In this volume leading scholars provide a new approach to the history of health in Southeast Asia. Framed by a series of synoptic pieces on the "Landscapes of Health" in Southeast Asia in 1914, 1950, and 2014 the essays interweave local, national, and regional perspectives. They range from studies of long-term processes such as changing epidemics, mortality and aging, and environmental history to detailed accounts of particular episodes: the global cholera epidemic and the hajj, the influenza epidemic of 1918, WWII, and natural disasters. The writers also examine state policy on healthcare and the influence of organizations, from NGOs such as the China Medical Board and the Rockefeller Foundation to grassroots organizations in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Excerpt

Sunil S. Amrith and Tim Harper

In 1914, the life expectancy of an average Indonesian man was under thirtyfive years. On the rubber plantations of Perak, in Malaysia, the death rate among Tamil migrant workers was over 85 per 1,000. the health of Southeast Asia’s people, the distribution of its population, and the region’s ecology had all been transformed by decades of tumultuous change. the map of Southeast Asia had been redrawn by imperial conquest and competition; the balance of its population has been altered by some of the largest migrations in modern history; its forest frontier was breached by new forms of commodity production. Its cities and towns were in intellectual ferment as Southeast Asia entered its “age in motion.” the outbreak of World War I intensified the contradictory forces that would shape the health and well-being of Southeast Asia’s peoples in the twentieth century. the war catalyzed political conflicts that would last for decades: through them, the lives of millions of Southeast Asians would be affected by warfare and epidemics, mass displacement, and natural disasters.

Yet it also marked a threshold in the development of modern medicine and public health in the region—in connection with parallel developments in South Asia and East Asia. the China Medical Board was founded in 1914, the first in a series of initiatives to bring American-style public health education to Asia. Over the next three decades, the Rockefeller Foundation would take its experiments in public health to the Philippines and Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Dutch, French, and British colonial states embarked on the gradual expansion of their medical facilities, as did the independent kingdom of Siam—hospital treatment, medicalized childbirth, pharmaceutical advertising, and rural health centers entered the life experience of a larger—although still limited—number of people. Southeast Asian health workers and doctors emerged as key players in international debates, however unequal the terms of the discussion. and indigenous medical practitioners across the region adapted to new circumstances with ingenuity and eclecticism.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.