Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Wallace Meyer

Reader 2

Francisco Donez

Reader 3

Char Miller

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Rights Information

© 2016 Maria R Pettis


The global incidence of dengue has increase 30-fold over the past 50 years in the western or Asian Pacific, this region is also a contemporary epicenter for resource extraction and ecological destabilization. Dengue is addition to yellow fever, chikungunya and most recently zika virus, are transmitted by the mosquito vector Aedes aegypti- a domesticated mosquito adept at breeding in artificial household containers and within homes. The history of the domestication and global distribution of Aedes aegypti is intrinsically linked to European expansion into and among tropical worlds. Contemporary population genetics research suggest the westward expansion of the mosquito vector beginning with trans-Atlantic Slave Trade moving to the Americas and then making a jump across the Pacific, which I argue occurred first within the Philippines and then spread eastward through the greater Indian Ocean. I argue that Spanish and American colonization facilitated the biological invasion of Ae. aegypti and dengue in the Philippines and created the conditions for contemporary epidemics. The discourse within the dominant voices of public health, CDC and WHO, omit this history as well as down play the significance of land use and deforestation while focusing predominantly upon dengue’s prevention and control. This omission is an act of erasure and a means of furthering western imperialism through paternalistic interventions. Mosquito-borne disease epidemics are unintended consequences of past human action and if public health discourse continues to frame epidemics as random and unfortunate events, we risk missing key patterns and continuing to perpetuate the circumstances of disease and adaptation.