CCHH: China Centre For Health And Humanity


The Cholera Pandemic,Transnational Politics, and the Cold War in Southeast Asia and China, 1960-1965

13 June 2018

An IAS Talking Point seminar with Visiting Research Fellow 

Cholera pandemic image ucl.ac.uk/institute-of-advanced-studies/people/dr-xiaoping-fang" target="_blank">Dr Fang Xiaoping 方小平 and responses from Dr Vivienne Lo  and Dr Andrew Wear.

Time: Wed 20 June 2018, 6-8pm
Place: IAS Common Ground (ground floor, south wing, Wilkins building)
Registration via Eventbrite.
Download a flyer here.


Until the late 1950s, the cholera caused by the El Tor Vibrio cholerae was confined to endemic foci on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes), where it had broken out four times between 1937 and 1945. At the end of the 1950s, the Indonesian Sukarno government manoeuvred its troops between Makassar and Sulawesi to suppress an internal rebellion, then in May 1959 it issued a decree to revoke the trading licenses of aliens in rural areas. Further policy changes came in January 1960, when the Indonesian and Chinese governments signed the Treaty on Dual Citizenship between the two countries. These events unexpectedly caused both domestic and transnational mobility on a large scale. Another outcome was the spread of El Tor cholera, which escalated from an endemic disease into a global pandemic. This paper discusses Indonesian Chinese and the cholera pandemic in Southeast Asia and China and analyses the disease and its mobility in the context of transnational politics in the early 1960s. It further examines how the Chinese government manoeuvred the politics of pandemic from its standpoint as an isolated nation in the global health community during the Cold War


Fang Xiaoping is Assistant Professor of Chinese History in the School of Humanities of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. His current research interests focus on the history of medicine, health and disease in twentieth-century China. He is the author of Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012). His articles have appeared in China Quarterly and Modern Asian Studies. He is currently working on a new book project tentatively entitled 'The Global Pandemic in Mao's China: Disease and Mobility between the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution'.

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