James C. McCann
Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: History of Science, Technology and Economics
Competition: US & Canada
Malaria is an infectious disease like no other. It is a dynamic, shape-shifting force of nature that constitutes Africa’s most deadly and debilitating infectious disease. During its historical co-evolution with humankind, malaria has evaded biomedicine’s struggles to eradicate it, or control its movement, and has mocked efforts to pursue it through single-stranded tactics: applications of DDT, vaccines, prophylaxis, and molecular-level genetic manipulations. Despite biomedicine’s efforts to find solutions in such single-stranded panacea, malaria survives as a unique human affliction of ecology that requires a study of time depth that accepts its complexity as one of its fundamental features. Biomedicine’s failures to date have, in fact, begged a return to a more comprehensive ecological understanding and addressing of the disease. I rejoin the struggle by paraphrasing a political metaphor, that all malaria is local, and a complex tapestry of nature’s forces. The project’s geographic focus is Ethiopia and its kaleidoscope of ecological landscapes that demonstrate these principles and may point the way forward.
The purpose of this study is to write a book-length work that will reset our understanding of this deadly disease in human, narrative terms that display a full grasp of human ecology with the science of landscape change and the dynamics of a vector-borne infectious disease. Malaria persists and will continue to adjust to changes in both the climate and the human condition. This study will constitute the final research and writing stage of five years of field study, archival research, and laboratory analysis of mosquitoes, parasites, and human agency in the unstable nature of malaria affliction.
Follow this link to view an interview about Mr. McCann's project.