Who bites back first?: Malaria control in Ghana and the politics of co-existence

Beisel, Ulrike (2011). Who bites back first?: Malaria control in Ghana and the politics of co-existence. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ed3f


There are many studies about global efforts to prevent, manage and control malaria. What is lacking, however, are studies about the relations between scientific interventions and the broader societal dimensions of malaria. In response to this situation the study brings together insights from human and non-human geographies, science and postcolonial studies as well as entomology.

Malaria is a disease that emerges out of an encounter between three species: Plasmodium parasite, Anopheles mosquito and human. Accordingly, the object of scholarly attention of this thesis is the encounter itself - the fragile but potentially destructive moment when the lives of three distinct and very much alive species intersect. More concretely, malaria control in Ghana happens in a space where lively mosquitoes meet gold-mining companies, fast evolving parasites encounter enthusiastic vaccine developers and where poor people still struggle to pay for antimalarial drugs.

The theoretical and empirical chapters interrogate malaria as a complex interspecies encounter. I examine the agency of human, parasite and mosquito in constituting and (re)defining the disease. Of particular importance to the analysis are practices that constitute malaria and its control interventions. Ultimately, the thesis advocates new inventive spatial topologies in conceptualizing malaria and practicing its control. I argue that human and non-human practices are profoundly intermingled and together constitute the disease. Malaria is articulated in enmeshed ecologies. Reading malaria in this way documents how humans co-exist with micro-organisms, and problematises the ecological conditions as well as social and political configurations of malaria in a postcolonial world.

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