skip to primary navigationskip to content

Cambridge Infectious Diseases

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Christos Lynteris

Dr Christos Lynteris

Senior Research Associate

Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic (ERC PI)

CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DT
Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 760484


PhD Social Anthropology (University of St Andrews), MA Honours Social Anthropology (University of St Andrews)

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

As the Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded 5-year project “Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic”, Dr Christos Lynteris will examine the visual representation of plague outbreaks in China at the time of the third plague pandemic (1855-1959), focusing in particular on the Hong Kong bubonic plague outbreak of 1894 and the pneumonic plague outbreaks in Manchuria in 1910-11 and 1920-21. Other plague epidemics in East Asia such as in Taiwan (1899), Newchwang/ Yingkou (1899), Kobe and Osaka (1899) and Tungliao (1928) will also be examined.


The examination of visual representations of the 1894 Hong Kong outbreak will concentrate on what was the first outbreak of bubonic plague in an area of international economic and political importance during the third plague pandemic, and, at the same time, the first photographic record of bubonic plague in human history. Examining this record on the basis of the four themes forming the methodological core of the project, research will focus on how modes of visual representation in operation during the particular outbreak followed or differed from hitherto dominant pictorial representations of plague (as exemplified in representations of the Black Death and the London Plague), and whether the former functioned as a paradigm with respect to the visual representation of subsequent manifestations of the disease in China and beyond. The examination of visual representations of the 1910-1911 and 1920-1921 pneumonic plague outbreaks in Manchuria (North-East China) will primarily focus on geopolitical and biopolitical aspects of conflicting modes of photographic documentation in the region. Examining Russian, Chinese and Japanese representations of the outbreaks, as well as other photographic records, such as by Western missionaries, in relation to the four themes of the project, research will explore to what extent a meta-narrative regarding plague in Manchuria emerged out of this imperial antagonism. In comparing visual representation of the Hong Kong bubonic plague outbreak to ones of the Manchurian pneumonic outbreaks, research will focus on the depiction of Chinese migrant workers (so-called “coolies”) as carriers of disease, and on the representation of “coolie” urban environment and housing as a hybrid zone of miasmatic and germ theory understandings of infection. By comparing this mode of representation with depictions of Chinese “coolies” in the course of the bubonic plague outbreaks in Hawaii and California, research will focus on the relation between race and class attribution of pestilence as an epidemiological visual narrative and the emergence of a globalised image of Chinese otherness.



  • Anthropology


  • Pneumonic plague

Key Publications


2016 Ethnographic Plague: Configuring Disease on the Chinese-Russian Frontier. London: Palgrave Macmillan

2012. The Spirit of Selflessness in Maoist China: Socialist Medicine and the New Man. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Edited Volumes

2016. (co-edited with Ruth J. Prince). Visual Anthropology Special Issue: Medicine, Photography and Anthropology, Volume 29, Issue 2.

2014. Epidemic Events and Processes. Cambridge Anthropology Volume 32, Number 1, Spring 2014. 

2013. (Co-edited with Marc Berdet) Across the Fields. Anthropology & Materialism, Number 1, Autumn 2013. [Read]


2016. The Prophetic Faculty of Epidemic Photography: Chinese Wet Markets and the Imagination of the Next Pandemic. Visual Anthropology, Special Issue: Medicine, Photography and Anthropology, Volume 29, Issue 2 (February 2016): 118-132.

2016. (co-authored with Ruth J. Prince) Anthropology and Medical Photography: Ethnographic, Critical and Comparative Perspectives. Visual Anthropology, Special Issue: Medicine, Photography and Anthropology, Volume 29, Issue 2 (February 2016): 101-117. 

2016. The Epidemiologist as Culture Hero: Visualizing Humanity in the Age of “the Next Pandemic,” Visual Anthropology 29: 1 (January 2016): 36-53.

2014. Jean-Jacques Matignon's Legacy on Russian Plague Research in North-East China and Inner Asia(1898-1910). Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident No. 37 (September 2014): 61-89. [Read]

2014. Introduction: The Time of Epidemics. Cambridge Anthropology 32: 1 (Spring 2014) 24-31. [Read]

2014. Epidemics as Events and as Crises: Comparing Two Plague Outbreaks in Manchuria (1910–11 and 1920–21) Cambridge Anthropology 32: 1 (Spring 2014) 62-76. [Read]

2013. The State as a Social Relation: An Anthropological Critique. Anthopology & Materialism, 1 (Autumn 2014). [Read] 

2013. Skilled Natives, Inept Coolies; Marmot Hunting and the Great Manchurian Pneumonic Plague (1910-1911). History and Anthropology 24: 3 (August 2013) 303-321. [Read]

2011. 'In Memory of Norman Bethune'; Two Exegetic Resurrections of the 'Spirit of Selflessness' in Maoist China. Journal of the British Association for Chinese Studies 1: 1 (December 2011) 21-49.

2011. From Prussia to China: Japanese Colonial Medicine and Goto Shinpei's Contribution to the Combination of Medical Police and Local Self-Administration. Medical History 55: 3 (July 2011) 343-347. [Read]

Book Chapters

2014. Speaking Marmots, Deaf Hunters: Animal-human semiotic breakdown as the cause of the Manchurian pneumonic plague of 1910-11. In Morten Tønnessen & Kadri Tüür (eds) The Semiotics of Animal Representations. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 

2013. State of Exception, Culture of Medical Police: SARS and the Law of No Rights in the People's Republic of China. In Alex Mold and David Reubi (eds.), Health Rights in Global Context: Genealogies and Anthropologies. London. Routledge.

Book Reviews

2016. Agitating Images: Photography against History in Indigenous Siberia. Craig Campbell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. Anthropologica 58: 1, 124-125

2013. Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba. P. Sean Brotherton, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. Cambridge Anthropology 31: 1 (March 2013): 163-164.

Under Commentary

2016. Untimely Ends and the Pandemic Imaginary. Somatosphere (July 8 2016)

2016. Pandemic Heroes: Saving Humankind on the Big Screen. Humanitarian Health Ethics (5 February 2016)

2015. Photographic Plagues. Royal Historical Society: History in the News (March 31 2015)

Other Publications


2006. Ernest Gellner. Muslim Society. Alexandria Publications: Athens.

Book Reviews

2013. Living with Koryak Traditions: Playing with Culture in Siberia. Alexander D. King. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011. American Anthropologist 115: 4 (December 2013): 698–699.

2011. Biopolitics, Militarism and Development; Eritrea in the 21st Century. David O’Kane & Tricia Redenek Hepner (eds). Oxford: Berghahn, 2009. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17 (December 2011): 891-892.

2011. Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine: Disease and the Geographic Imagination in Late Imperial China. Marta E. Hanson. London: Routledge, 2011. Social History of Medicine 25: 4 (October 2012): 900-901.


2012. Obituary to David Riches (1947-2011). Anthropology Today, 28: 2 (April 2012) 26-27.