Malaria: Global Themes and Ottoman Connections

88.     Disease in Ottoman History

This three-part series provides an introduction to the historical study of malaria with special emphasis on the place of the Ottoman Empire and Middle East in the story of human interaction with the disease.

Part One:

Malaria is a disease that has been with human society since our earliest days. It has shaped our relationship with our environment throughout time, thereby changing the course of history. In our three part series on malaria, we look at malaria on the global stage and in the Ottoman Empire in particular, as well as more recent scientific approaches to malaria during the last century. This first episode examines malaria in the long durée and its various interactions with human society.

Part Two:

Malaria was present in much of the Ottoman Empire throughout its six centuries of existence; yet, the relationship between humans and the disease environment was anything but unchanging. In this second part of our three part series on the history of malaria, we discuss the role of the disease in Ottoman history, make some observations about changes in settlement and disease, and explore early attempts to control malaria through state interventions and the use of science and medicine.

Part Three:

The discovery of the malaria parasite and the mosquito as its vector changed human understandings of the disease and gave rise to scientific and medical approaches that mixed new and old practices. The twentieth century saw a great push to eliminate malaria from many parts of the world, and while these programs had successes, they also led to unintended consequences. In this third and final part of our three part series on the history of malaria, we discuss new approaches to malaria that arose both in colonial settings and within the framework of new nation states, touching on the cases of Turkey, India, Algeria, Israel/Palestine, Italy, the US and others.

Sam Dolbee is a PhD candidate in the department of Middle East Studies at New York University
Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate studying the history of the modern Middle East at Georgetown University (see

Citation: "Malaria: Global Themes and Ottoman Connections," Chris Gratien and Sam Dolbee, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 88 (January 13, 2013)

Note for the listener: While this episode refers to many primary source materials, this podcast is not primarily a work of primary source research. It is a synthesis of publicly available information and draws extensively from the following works below, which are also mentioned during the course of the episode. For the purposes of academic citation, we encourage you to consult these works.




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