CfP: Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics

CALL FOR PAPERS special issue of eTropic: journal of studies in the tropics

Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics

Submission deadline: 1 December 2020

ABOUT THEME: Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics

The Tropics has long been associated with exotic diseases and epidemics. This historical imaginary arose with Aristotle’s notion of the tropics as the ‘torrid zone’, a geographical region virtually uninhabitable to non-indigenous peoples due to the hostility of its climate; it persisted in colonial imaginaries of the tropics as pestilential latitudes requiring slave labour; and further into wars staged in tropical arenas where illness and death from diseases reduced the availability of healthy soldiers to die on the battle field. The tropical sites of colonialism and war gave rise to urgent (western) studies of tropical diseases which lead to changes in architecture and urban planning, to biopiracy of tropical plants and indigenous knowledges, and to the creation of institutes of tropical medicine.

The tropics as a region of pandemic, plague and pestilence has been challenged during the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. The new virus neither originated in the tropics, nor were the tropical countries of the world specifically or exclusively affected. Tropical countries have been impacted by, and responded to, the novel coronavirus in diverse ways. This disrupts the imaginary of pandemics, plagues, pestilence in association with the tropics, and calls for critical, nuanced, and situated analyses.

Indeed, critiques of the notion of the tropics as wildly infectious sites already have a long history, articulated through the arts, film, literature, history, cultural studies, ethnographies, social sciences and urban studies. For instance, tropical epidemics (and fear of the other) have been associated with the subtropic Gothic vampire myths of New Orleans; disease and colonialism is as much the setting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in a Time of Cholera as are the tropics of Colombia and the Caribbean sea; in Thai director, Weerasathakul’s, film Tropical Malady malarial fevers involve shamanism and shape-shifting; ethnographic studies reveal how local peoples interpret and attend to tropical illnesses; and tropical infectiousness is the germ of academic research analysing heterotopic quarantined spaces of sanatoriums constructed across the tropics.

The CFP theme: Pandemic, Plague, Pestilence and the Tropics opens to complex intertwinings involving nature and culture, humans and animals, colonialism and indigeneity, science and conspiracy, histories and futures, reality and fiction, myth and ritual, the monstrous and magnanimous.

This special issue invites a wide range of research articles and creative works from researchers who live in, or engage with, the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

eTropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics publishes new research from Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and allied fields on the variety and interrelatedness of nature, culture, and society in the tropics. Tropical regions of the world range across: the north of Australia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, tropical Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands, the Pacific, southern America and Hawai’i.

ISSN:1448-2940, free open access; indexed in Scopus, Ulrich’s and DOAJ; archived in Pandora and Sherpa/Romeo; DOIs are used; Scimago Q2 ranking. 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR AUTHORS: go to eTropic Announcements page

  • Submissions close 1 December 2020
  • Publication dates: Issue 1, March 2021; Issue 2, October 2021
  • For enquiries or for pitching your ideas or abstracts, email

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