Kah Seng Loh and Li Yang HsuAug 16, 2021
Tuberculosis - the Singapore Experience, 1867-2018
Disease, Society and the State
Tuberculosis: The Singapore Experience, 1867-2018 (Routledge, 2021), co-written by Dr. Loh, a historian and Dr. Hsu Li Yang, a medical doctor offers an inter-disciplinary analysis of the way in the which the disease was managed from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. This book charts the relationship between disease, society and the state, outlining the struggles of colonial and post-colonial governments to cope with infectious disease and to establish effective public health programmes and institutions. British colonial administrators initially viewed tuberculosis as a racial problem linked to the poverty, housing and insanitary habits of the Chinese working class. After the Second World War, ambitious medical and urban improvement initiatives were instituted by the returning British colonial government with considerable success. These schemes in the post-colonial period set the tone for continuous biopolitical intervention by the post-colonial Singapore state whose struggle against infectious disease in a densely populated city never really ended. The focus on infections makes this book an apt one to discuss when Singapore – and the world- is still struggling against Covid-19 and its multiple variants.
Dr. Loh Kah Seng a historian of Singapore and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. He is interested in urban history and social history of cities. He currently runs Chronicles Research and Education, a research consultancy on Singapore heritage.
Faizah Zakaria is assistant professor of history at Nanyang Technological University. You can find her website at www.faizahzak.com and on Twitter @laurelinarien.