Mosquitoes, Malaria, and Malnutrition: The Making of the Assam Tea Plantations


After traders from East India Company discovered Assam’s wild tea plants in the early decades of the nineteenth century, the commodification of this resource in the eastern border of Bengal radically transformed the ecological condition of the region. This paper seeks to reconstruct the interaction between humans and various non-human agents on the tea plantations. It will focus particularly on three interconnected phenomena: the changes made to the environment and the landscape, the high prevalence of mosquitoes and malaria, and the effects of disease and malnutrition upon the human laborers.