Reconsidering the Social Ecology of Plague on the Russian-Chinese Border

Friday seminar by Christos Lynteris


The seminar will examine claims of a 'traditional knowledge' of plague (Yersinia pestis) amongst Mongols and Buryats at the turn of the 20th century, which supposedly prevented widespread outbreaks of the disease in the region, where Yersinia pestis is endemic amongst marmots, an animal hunted by the indigenous population. This claim, which is widely accepted in epidemiological literature to our days, proposes a traditional native understanding of plague zoonosis. The seminar will demonstrate how this 'native knowledge hypothesis' was in fact the product of a series of medical misreadings of myths and social practices in the region, which achieved a canonical status during the great Manchurian plague epidemic of 1910-1911.

Dr Christos Lynteris
Senior Research Associate
ERC Principal Investigator
CRASSH, University of Cambridge
7 West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DP

Published Feb. 24, 2014 7:35 PM