Lukas Engelmann and Christos Lynteris

Mar 26, 2021

Sulphuric Utopias

A History of Maritime Fumigation

MIT Press 2020

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the COIVD-19 pandemic, take the time to listen to this discussion of previous efforts to fight yellow fever, cholera, and plague pandemics. Lukas Engelmann and Christos Lynteris’s Sulfuric Utopias: A History Maritime Fumigation (MIT Press, 2020) tells the story of the international dream of stopping the spread of infectious disease in global shipping networks. Their work shows how the interests of capitalism clashed with the efforts of public health officials. At the center of their narrative lies the Clayton, a machine which combined technocratic enthusiasm and necropolitical logic. Sulfuric Utopias brings together the history disease, capitalism, public health, and science. It is both a contribution to maritime history and urban history. Personally, I was so excited to interview two authors who know more about the history of rat killing than I do.

Lukas Engelmann is a Chancellor's Fellow in the History and Sociology of Biomedicine, in the department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. 

Christos Lynteris is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews. 

Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.

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Michael Vann

Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.

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