Epidemics have played a critical role in shaping modern Asia. Encompassing two centuries of Asian history, Robert Peckham explores the profound impact that infectious disease has had on societies across the region: from India to China and the Russian Far East. The book tracks the links between biology, history, and geopolitics, highlighting infectious disease's interdependencies with empire, modernization, revolution, nationalism, migration, and transnational patterns of trade. By examining the history of Asia through the lens of epidemics, Peckham vividly illustrates how society's material conditions are entangled with social and political processes, offering an entirely fresh perspective on Asia's transformation.
Robert Peckham is Associate Professor in History and Co-Director of the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine at The University of Hong Kong. His recent books include Imperial Contagions: Medicine, Hygiene, and Cultures of Planning in Asia (co-editor, 2013) and Empires of Panic: Epidemics and Colonial Anxieties (editor, 2015).