Department of History, UC Santa Cruz
"Origin Stories: Constructing the liver in Egypt through epidemics of schistosomiasis and hepatitis C"
During the twentieth century, Egypt was the site of two interconnected disease epidemics that target the liver. With the construction of dams on the Nile River and the spread of perennial irrigation, millions of Egyptians were infected with the parasitic disease schistosomiasis. One symptom of infection with the Schistosoma mansoni parasite is hepatic fibrosis; by the early twentieth century, doctors noted that liver disease was widespread among their patients. Beginning in the 1920s, millions of Egyptians also fell ill with hepatitis C, the product of an extensive nationwide treatment campaign for schistosomiasis. This talk explores the historical origins of schistosomiasis and hepatitis C in Egypt, and the locally specific production of the liver as a site of medical knowledge and practice.