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

Tuesday 19 June 2018, 12.30PM to 14:00

Speaker(s): Professor Xiaoping Fang (Nanyang Technological University)

Places at this workshop are limited and available on a first come first served basis. To register your place please email You will also be notified of the background materials for this workshop closer to the time.

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 maneuvered 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 Indonesia and China. 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 workshop will discuss Indonesian Chinese and the cholera pandemic in Southeast Asia and China and will analyze 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.

This event is a collaboration between the Centre for Global Health Histories and the York Asia Research Network (YARN) an interdisciplinary group based at the University of York which is supported and funded by the Research Centre for Social Sciences.

Biography: Xiaoping Fang is Assistant Professor of Chinese History in the School of Humanities of the 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). 

Location: BS/008, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

Admission: Free and open to all. registration Required - to register your place please email