Christos Lynteris is a medical anthropologist. His research focuses on the anthropological and historical examination of infectious disease epidemics, animal to human infection (zoonosis), medical visual culture, epidemiological epistemology, colonial medicine, global health, and epidemics as events posing an existential risk to humanity.
Funded by the Wellcome Trust with an Investigator Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Lynteris' new project (2019-2024) The Global War Against the Rat and the Epistemic Emergence of Zoonosis will examine the global history of a foundational but historically neglected process in the development of scientific approaches of zoonosis: the global war against the rat (1898-1948). The project will explore the synergies between knowledge acquired through medical studies of the rat, in the wake of understanding its role in the transmission of infectious diseases (plague, leptospirosis, murine typhus), with knowledge acquired during the development and application of public health measures of vector-control: rat-proofing, rat-catching and rat-poisoning. By examining the epistemological, architectural, social, and chemical histories of rat control from a global, comparative perspective, the project will show how new forms of epidemiological reasoning about key zoonotic mechanisms (the epizootic, the disease reservoir, and species invasiveness) arose around the epistemic object of the rat.
Funded by the European Research Council with a Starting Grant (under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme/ERC grant agreement no 336564), Dr Lynteris' recently completed project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic (2013-2018) collected and analysed photographs and other visual documents of the third plague pandemic (1855-1959). The project showed that the emergence of epidemic photography played a pivotal role in the formation of scientific understandings and public perceptions of infectious disease epidemics in the modern world, and contributed significantly the formation of the concept of the “pandemic”. Dr Lynteris has investigated aspects of “visual plague” in China, with a particular focus on Hong Kong and Manchuria. On a global scale, his research has engaged in comparative analysis, focusing on regimes and practices of epidemic visibility and invisibility. The project's OA digital database is available via https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/275905
Previously, Dr Lynteris’ research examined: epidemic crises in modern China and their impact on society and governance; SARS and the “floating population” in the PRC; the formation of socialist medicine in China and its synergy and antagonism with Confucian ethics; the social ecology of plague on the Chinese-Russian frontier; marmot-hunting practices amongst Mongols and Buryats and their impact on the zoonotic transmission of plague; the role of ethnography in the formation of scientific knowledge about plague.