December 1, 2011
First editions: History experts publish books on international topics
After many years of research, two Kansas State University history experts have published their first books about the complex issues surrounding two topics: disease epidemics and international radio.
"Diseased Relations: Epidemics, Public Health and State-Building in Yucatan, Mexico, 1847-1924" was written by K-State's Heather McCrea, associate professor of history. K-State's Michael Krysko, assistant professor of history, wrote "American Radio in China: International Encounters with Technology and Communications, 1919-41."
Originally based on her dissertation, McCrea's "Diseased Relations" examines the effects of epidemics throughout history. The book specifically analyzes how the formation of public health policy in the indigenous groups of Yucatan, Mexico, influenced institutions of modern Mexico.
"In the tropical region of Yucatan, Mexico, which hosted a plethora of diseases, the violent resistance of various Maya groups to state exploitation created one of the least understood but most significant threats to Mexican rule since the Spanish conquest," McCrea said.
“As protection of one's own health -- as well as control over individual and collective bodies -- came to be ingrained in the imagined community that elites sought to construct, public health campaigns became symbols of modernization and an extension of the state's efforts to remake clean citizens out of what some perceived as the filthy, the disorderly and the rebellious," she said.
McCrea's book also incorporates the region of Mexico into a larger discussion about socioeconomic change and the role that health care, or lack thereof, plays in human society.
"Everybody gets sick and if we look at how people in different societies confront epidemics, we can find out more about that society," she said.
Krysko's book, "American Radio in China," began with a longtime interest in the area of international relations.
"First as an undergraduate and then as a graduate student, I developed an interest in American-East Asian relations during the first part of the 20th century," he said. "'American Radio in China' began as a vehicle to explore that interest."
After 15 years of research, his book evolved toward a focus on how the efforts to expand U.S. radio into China failed due to flawed U.S. policies and approaches in that interwar era.
"I found that so many of the problems that undermined U.S. strategies to develop American radio markets in China had their roots in culturally-based misperceptions of the Chinese and questionable assumptions about how American radio might influence its audience," Krysko said.
"What particularly stuck me was how enduring those ideas about the power of radio have been," he said. "What many Americans were saying about radio in the 1920s and 1930s is quite similar to what we might hear now about the power of the Internet."
McCrea and Krysko both plan on continuing their research efforts. They hope to write more books on their various studies on international subjects in the future.
Both books, "Diseased Relations: Epidemics, Public Health and State-Building in Yucatan, Mexico, 1847-1924," and “American Radio in China: International Encounters with Technology and Communications, 1919-41," are available for purchase at Amazon.com.