Vermin landscapes: Suffolk, England, shaped by plague, rat and flea 1906-1920

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter brings together the approaches of animal history, animal geography and the cultural history of science to address the discursive, aesthetic formation, circulation and power of expert knowledge at the beginning of the twentieth century. Taking as its case study an outbreak of Bubonic and pneumonic plague in Suffolk (1906-1918) it considers the framing of rats as enemies to hygiene and to human health in Britain. This encompasses the application of the large-scale research methods developed in India during the Third Plague Pandemic, via the Lister Institute and the Advisory Committee on Plague of the India Office, in Ipswich, Suffolk (a British provincial city connected to national and imperial trade and knowledge networks) and its rural hinterland. Drawing on archival sources (Rural District Council records and investigators’ letters) and printed primary sources including: postcards and travel narratives, discussion of the findings associated with this investigation in the popular and medical press, and British Parliamentary Papers (Public Board of Health), and reports on scientific and agricultural meetings of the period, it argues that the investigation must be placed within its temporally and spatially-specific context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFraming animals as epidemic villains
Subtitle of host publicationhistories of non-human disease vectors
EditorsChristos Lynteris
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783030267957
ISBN (Print)9783030267940
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2019

Publication series

NameMedicine and Biomedical Sciences in Modern History
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • Rats
  • Suffolk
  • Plague
  • Ipswich


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