The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria by Randall Packard examines the globalization and spreading of a disease, specifically malaria. The author goes into closer detail on the potency of malaria in different nations of the world; he discusses why it is more potent in some areas than others. The novel also closely examines the key factors (which are mainly the social forces) that allow malaria to be globalized in the first place. By reading the novel, one will acquire the knowledge of how malaria globalized from its origin to all of the other areas of the world.
In Anthony Giddens’ novel The Consequences of Modernity he refers to a concept known as “disembedding” which applies well to the novel by Randall Packard. The concept of “disembedding” is defined as “the lifting out of social relations from local contexts of interaction and their restructuring across indefinite spans of time-space.” (Giddens) By moving out of a local context and socializing with other nations and areas across the world, it is much easier for disease to globalize. This is the case within The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria; the author clearly establishes that malaria had its origins in Africa during early human life. The actual malaria parasite has existed for an incredibly long time, it has been said to have been existent since roughly 20,000 B.C. (Packard) Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, and it mainly began to take effect on human life within the last 10,000 years; specifically during the start of agriculture (Neolithic Revolution). (Packard) During the Neolithic Revolution; agriculture was introduced and many humans were able to settle down and advance themselves for the better. However, this period of time was not completely filled with happiness and prosperity. By farming and doing other activities that coincide with agriculture, early African humans came into contact with mosquitoes quite a bit more. (Packard) This is believed to be when the disease was introduced to human life, and it definitely was not existent solely in Africa. Traces of Malaria were found thousands of years ago in countless different areas including Greece, Egypt and Rome. (Packard) This was most likely not related to Giddens’ concept of “disembedding” because of how early of a time period this was, other countries generally did not collaborate with one another because there were not many means of transportation developed yet. However, the spread of African mosquitoes to these foreign areas played a large part in the spreading of malaria. This is an example of globalization itself, if the mosquitoes were to simply remain in Africa the spreading of disease most likely would have been less rapid. Packard focuses on the human factors that caused the spread of malaria, however. Specifically, Packard focuses on social factors including war, famine, and human poverty. Packard explains in chapter 2 that malaria was introduced to Europe from Cathargo in Sardinia during the Carthaginian War, which is an example of the “disembedding” concept Giddens refers to. By the two different areas interacting, it was much easier for the disease to further spread. There are several other topics discussed in The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria that can be related to “disembedding”; which is why I am looking forward to using this novel for support in my final paper on the globalization of disease.