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State of Vaccination: The Fight Against Smallpox in Colonial Burma

Atsuko Naono's book State of Vaccination: The Fight Against Smallpox in Colonial Burma has just been published by Orient BlackSwan.

Researched in both London and Burma, State of Vaccination examines how a colonial medical establishment attempted to cope with the neglect that came from being on the periphery of British India. In Burma, local medical officers often doubled up as field officers, laboratory scientists, veterinarians, and teachers to compensate for the weak reach of the colonial state and the chronic shortages of funding and staff. More autonomy was surrendered to local colonial medical officers and the success of the vaccination effort was more vulnerable than in the presidencies to the limitations of transportation, preservation, and legislation, on the one hand, and the challenges of large-scale immigration, local inoculation, and indigenous resistance, on the other. By emphasizing the importance of the colonial medical sub-terrain on the periphery of British India, Atsuko Naono profiles the civil surgeon and his interactions with the local landscape. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the history of colonial medicine in Asia.

This study begins in the nineteenth century, when Burma came under British rule after three successive wars, and ends with the constitutional separation from India in 1937. Compared to other areas that were a part of British India, Burma rarely figures in studies of colonial health in the British Empire. As a useful countervailing example of medicine under the Raj, incongruities between the colonial medicine practiced on the subcontinent and its periphery Burma are highlighted.

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