Accepted Paper:

Counting Mosquitoes: Reports, Maps, Surveys, and Engineering Projects during the Allies' Local, Multi-Species Malaria Control Practices in WWII   


Monica Hoffman (University of California San Diego)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses reports, maps, and surveys to engage the quotidian work of counting and controlling mosquitoes; and the work of translating and representing that work into useful information in the form of reports that circulated up and down Allied command hierarchies.

Paper long abstract:

The Malaria and Epidemic Control Organization (MECO) was created to address the significant impact of malaria on Allied Forces in the Pacific Theater in WWII. I analyze MECO's memos, records, surveys, and reports as technical objects that created particular "geographies of responsibility" (Akrich 1992) for malaria control. These technologies and practices articulated malaria as a local, multi-species disease that required local, multi-species interventions.

Following Joyce, I believe that files are "concerned with excluding as much as including things, the 'engineering out' as well as the 'engineering in' of knowledge production and capacities for action" (Joyce 2010) The forms and reports of the malaria control units codified ways of articulating malaria, as well as the geographies of responsibility for its control. The forms, surveys, maps, and reports of the Malaria Control Units were a mode for stabilizing knowledge about malaria and malaria control.

My analysis focuses on two aspects within the technologies and practices of malaria control: 1. the "common, day-to-day" work of counting and controlling mosquitoes and parasites (Mol 2003); and 2. the work of translating and representing that work into useful information in the form of reports that could circulate up and down command hierarchies. Both of these aspects were coordinated by a senior malariologist. I argue that malaria was enacted and articulated through both the practices and the reporting of those practices, and that malaria was successfully controlled because the malariologist coordinated and translated both.

Panel T059
Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience