Toxic Epidemics: Agent Orange Sickness in Vietnam and the United States

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Social scientists studying toxic epidemics have often endeavored to shed light on the differences between scientists’ and nonscientists’ epistemic perspectives. Yet, little attention has been paid to the processes through which a toxic epidemic emerges as a phenomenon. A Luoi Valley of Central Vietnam was extensively sprayed with chemical defoliants (including Agent Orange) during the Vietnam War. The latent toxic effects of these chemicals, however, went largely unnoticed until the late 1990s. By juxtaposing the history through which the notion of “Agent Orange Sickness” emerged in the United States with an ethnographic study of A Luoi, I explore the notion of poison under which Agent Orange became recognizable as a poison.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-476
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Agent Orange Sickness
  • poison
  • population
  • toxic epidemic
  • Vietnam War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


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