Disease and Demography in Colonial Burma

by Judith Richell

  • Published:
  • Pages: 341 pp.
  • illustrated
  • Series number: 103
Available from NIAS Press in Europe

This important study examines population trends in Burma during the 19th and 20th centuries, looking in particular at public health and the epidemiology of disease. In developing this material, the author also presents a wide-ranging social history of modern Burma.

• Will be of considerable interest to scholars studying not just Burma but also neighbouring countries, notably Thailand, Indonesia, Malaya and India.
• Contains material that will be valuable for researchers concerned with historical demography, epidemiology, public health and public administration in colonial times.
• General readers interested in the history of disease and its treatment, or the experiences of local populations under colonial regimes in Asia, will find it highly informative.


This important study examines population trends in Burma during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, looking in particular at public health and the epidemiology of disease. In developing this material, the author also presents a wide-ranging social history of modern Burma, relating the history of particular diseases to cultural beliefs and practices, as well as population movements, developments in agriculture and irrigation, nutritional trends, and the deployment of government servants and military personnel.

The study uncovers much new information about Burma that will be of considerable interest to a wide range of scholars. It also contains material relating to historical demography, epidemiology, public health, and public administration in colonial times. But what will be especially striking to all readers is will be Richell’s account of the indifference of the British to the health needs of their Burmese subjects, not least the refusal to im-plement the simplest of measures to reduce the appalling death toll.

by Michael W. Charney
From journal:
Journal of the Siam Society, 2007, Vol. 95

"Richell’s voyage into Burmese demography and public health is innovative and much needed.

…the present volume represents a very important contribution to the field and one that should stand the test of time.

"Richell’s voyage into Burmese demography and public health is innovative and much needed.

…the present volume represents a very important contribution to the field and one that should stand the test of time.

…a solid, comprehensive examination of public health in colonial Burma that must be read by any researcher working on this period and place.  The breakdown of chapters …makes it an especially effective case study for comparative studies of the state of health in Asia generally.

This book is highly recommended as well for undergraduate and postgraduate courses focused on the more human side odf Southeast Asian History."

by William G. Clarence-Smith
From journal:
ASEASUK

“…a great contribution to the historical literature on Southeast Asia and tropical demography.”

“…a great contribution to the historical literature on Southeast Asia and tropical demography.”

by Peter Boomgaard
From journal:
South East Asia Research

“This book is an excellent monograph on the demographic history of late colonial Burma.”

“This book is an excellent monograph on the demographic history of late colonial Burma.”

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