Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Science, Technology and Society

Reader 1

Gabriela Morales

Reader 2

Laura Perini

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© 2022 Natalie M Chen


Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a rehydration solution, comprised of sugar water and salt, intended to replenish sodium and water losses to diarrheal disease. It was developed in Bangladesh through the 1960s and 1970s by American and Bengali researchers. In this project I explore the development, design, and deployment of ORT in a post-colonial healthcare context of Bangladesh from 1960-1980s. The examination of ORT in Bangladesh highlights complexities in the simultaneous global shift from primary health care (PHC) to selective primary healthcare (SPHC). I apply the STS analytical concept of fluidity, to examine and argue the technology was reappropriated and remade within postcolonial health care systems that bridged and co-constituted both PHC and SPHC approaches. Chapter one provides the history of ORT’s development and Bangladesh’s post-colonial context, to argue ORT’s fluid design was shaped by Cold War containment policy, colonial public health, and scientists’ independence activism in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Chapter two explores the global health debate between PHC and SPHC, to argue that ORT in Bangladesh complicates this global transition from the global health structures, because it embodies the middle-ground. I propose this middle ground of the debate co-constituted ORT’s fluidity design and implementation in Bangladesh. Finally, in chapter three I aim to illustrate that the fluidity of various forms of ORT—packaged and homemade—I situate each ORT version’s fluidity to argue that PHC and SPHC are co-constituted by this degree of fluidity in this specific context. This variable fluidity co-constitutes the converging forces of SPHC and PHC in Bangladesh’s post-colonial and resource limited reality of the 1980s.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.