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Can the Mosquito Speak? - Soc. Foundations

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merelis ortiz

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of Can the Mosquito Speak? - Soc. Foundations

Can the Mosquito Speak?
Timothy Mitchell
British political scientist specializing in Arab studies, particularly in Egypt.
Cambridge and Princeton educated.
Currently a professor at Columbia University and chairperson for the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African studies department.
Author of Colonizing Egypt and Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics and Modernity, which contains the article Can the Mosquito Speak?
Mitchell combines social and economic factors to explore the history of the Arab world, how it has developed into its modern state and its global impacts.
Outbreak and Spread: “Disease often moves with the changing movements of people.”
Explores the Egyptian struggle against continued British rule during WWII in the 1940s.
Beginning in 1942, he cites two invasions that would greatly impact Egypt, human war and mosquito plague.
While nation’s battle each other for territory and resources in the north, the people of the poorer rural communities in the south fight for their lives against the
tiny killer.
The malaria spread by the Anopheles Gambiae mosquitoes - Mitchell says came through the Nile River from Sudan - speculates that it continued to travel through means of boat, train, plane and motorcar.
Same time severe food shortage, due to lack of chemical fertilizer because trade routes were blocked by military and damming of the river.
Sugar cane corps in the south hit the hardest- approximately 80-90 deaths per day. Sugar consumption caused weakened immune systems, making it more difficult for the body to fight malaria.
Government and Military Response: “Dams, blood-borne parasites, synthetic chemicals, mechanized war and man-made famine coincided and interacted.”
Manipulation of the river through damming for the purpose of “development”, disrupting the natural flow and chemistry of the water. Allowed new channels for the disease to spread.
Officials censored reporting of the epidemic, echoing classic authorization control which we still see today. Prematurely declared the epidemic eradicated, until the second, more severe outrage occurred.
British shortage of quinine, and their reluctance to send aid to the south caused the Egyptian government to create its own measures to address the advancing disease.
Government attacks the mosquito and not the parasite itself.
Oil and nitrate initially used to combat the insect were determined to be more valuable to the war efforts.

Fred Sober
John D. Rockefellar
Microscopist investigating anopheles larvae
Antiviral inspector inspecting infected areas
Factors of Development - human & non human factors
Human factors are those that we can either instigate or control such as development plans, and the nonhuman factors are those related to nature.
Mitchell stressed the issue of expert coming in foreign countries and trying to do everything their way.
Radical Change
Land reform
Hygenic houses
The Role of the United States in Egypt
Fertilizer factory
Technical assistance
Hybrid corn
New technology for building houses of mud brick
3 Significant Features of New Politics Based on Technical Expertise
1. The Dam at Aswan
Knowledge rather than expertise
2. Engineering at Aswan
Practical difficulties

3. Failures and Adjustments
Overlooked and covered up

Culmination of British Role in Egypt
Popular Campaign (Jan 26, 1952)
The Monopoly of Sugar Company was Nationalized

Jamal Abdul Nasser
The Construction of a Second Dam
Change Parliament Order

Land Reform Law (July 23, 1952)
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
Henry Ford (1921)

Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT)
Paul Müller - Nobel Peace Prize (1948)
Peet-Grady Chamber

Techno-science: rearranging nature = Dam at Aswan
Constant Control over Nature
1944- US Army Public Health Service & American Entomological Society issued warning: DDT poisonous to fish and potentially harmful to all forms of plant and animal life
World Health Organization responsible for the world-wide antimalarial campaigns - BUT eradication program ignored Africa, world's major malarial region!!
1969- WHO warn the risks of DDT banning in agriculture, but not completely eliminating its usage.
1990s United Nations Envitonment Program sponsored negotiations to end the use of DDT
DDT Safe?
2007 DDT finally eliminated
2 Dominant Business Monopolies
The 'Abbud & Misr groups
Invest in a new joint venture with the U.S. chemical company Monsanto - build a local plant to manufacture DDT
'Abbud introduced fertilizer -> fertilizer brought insect pests -> $$ to corporations
Healthcare agencies financed the mass production of DDT
Human intervention on earth sometimes has unforeseen consequences
Contributing to the death of other humans
There are many things that gets in the way of development projects
Expertise is a form of control
War and power always seems to be priority rather than a person's well-being
Disease brought by environmental transformation, industrial chemistry shaped by military needs, and war accompanied by famine - are affects to the manipulation of nature.
If the aforementioned did not exist would people still suffer from diseases, illnesses or world hunger?
Nile irrigation system- western engineers build the new irrigation system in Egypt totally disregarding the old one, which worked perfectly fine.
Not only did the experts face some challenges with the new nile irrigation system because of the way nature challenged them, but experts failed to take into consideration any suggestions from the locals. “Individuals may at times secure control of certain elements, and they may even claim to represent those elements in the social world. But no individual masters them, or submits the world to their intentions” (p. 34).
Lessons learned with the Nile (aswan dam): no matter how efficient experts are, there are always details that they oversee and most things don’t always work out the way we plan when we are dealing with nature.
Mosquitoes came through the new irrigation system which led to a gigantic malaria outbreak that cost more lives than the war.
Nile Irrigation System
Karl Marx
Individual capitalists are to be understood not as agents in their own right, but as those who personify the power of capital
Expansion of value and exchange power the capitalist movement, not human intention
The Bee
Imagination vs Reality
Nature vs Expertise
Human vs Mosquito
Full transcript